Leona Maguire’s debut in the Solheim Cup has been nothing short of spectacular. The European newcomer has already won one match this week, and is set to face the US ‘golden pairing’ of Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie on Friday morning.
Leona Maguire (second left) will represent Ireland at the Solheim Cup for the first time.
|Dates: September 4-6 Inverness Golf Club is located in Toledo, Ohio.|
|Live written commentary will be available on the Sport website from 12:30 BST on Saturday and Sunday, and from 16:00 BST on Monday.|
Despite playing the United States’ “golden combination” of Nelly and Jessica Korda in Saturday’s first Solheim Cup foursomes in Ohio, European rookie Leona Maguire says she feels “no pressure.”
The Korda sisters, who were unstoppable at Gleneagles in 2019, will be up against Ireland’s Maguire and England’s Mel Reid.
Two years earlier, the Kordas won three and a half points from four games, but Europe went on to win the championship.
“These are the kinds of games you get excited about,” Maguire remarked.
“Right now, Nelly is the greatest player in the planet. I’ll take everything in stride. Everyone expects the Kordas to win, so there’s no pressure on me or Mel.”
BST (British Summer Time)
Nelly, who is now world number one, and her older sibling Jessica Korda, dominated their foursomes matches at Gleneagles, winning 6&5 and 6&4.
They were divided up for the first day’s fourballs – each earning half a point – then left out completely for the second day’s fourballs before winning their singles bouts on the final day.
The European team starts with a powerful pair, with Women’s Open winner Anna Nordqvist and Finland’s Matilda Castren against Danielle Kang and Austin Ernst (12:35 BST).
Celine Boutier of France and Georgia Hall of England, who won two foursomes and one fourball match at Gleneagles, meet Ally Ewing and Meghan Khang of the United States (12:47), while Charley Hull and Emily Pedersen of Denmark face Lexi Thompson and Brittany Altomare (13:11 BST).
“Celine and Georgia performed well at Gleneagles. That was a no-brainer, and we were going to repeat it this time “Catriona Matthew, Europe’s captain, said.
Since the tournament started in 1990, the US has won 10 of the 16 matches between the two teams.
As the competition heats up, Europe begins as the underdog.
Europe has only won once in the United States, but Matthew is sure that her team will win the Solheim Cup in Toledo despite the odds and a lack of fan support.
Because of Covid-19-related travel restrictions, Matthew’s team, who won by a single point at Gleneagles, are also expected to encounter a hostile audience.
“I believe the fact that we’ve only won once, in Colorado [in 2013], demonstrates how tough it is to win away from home,” Matthew remarked.
“This year will be more tough and challenging for us, but I believe we will be able to meet the task.”
“Instead of believing we’ll have a few admirers, we’re anticipating approximately nothing.”
“I believe it simply adds another hurdle for them [the players] to overcome in order to achieve that triumph.”
“However, being here and seeing all the stands up, as well as the people beginning to arrive, the excitement is beginning to grow.”
Reid, who served as a non-playing vice-captain in Scotland, believes the recruits available to Matthew highlight Europe’s strength.
Sophia Popov of Germany, who won the 2020 Women’s Open, is joined by Maguire, Castren, and Nanna Koerstz Madsen, all of whom are making their debuts.
“They’ve played on the LPGA, they’ve won on the LPGA, and they’ve played great golf against these American ladies on the LPGA,” Reid said.
“Because of the system, I believe we haven’t experienced that with some of the rookies in past years. This is by far the best squad we’ve ever had, in my opinion. These are the 12 guys I would have chosen if I had to write a team of 12.”
Korda dissuades guests from putting pressure on her.
While US captain Pat Hurst has four players ranked in the top 15 in the world, Nordqvist, who is ranked 16th, is the highest-ranked golfer in the visiting ranks.
The US squad is ranked 26.2 in the world, while Europe is ranked 44.1.
The Americans seem to be overwhelming favourites, with an average global rating that compares well to Europe’s, as well as other considerations like as the ability to build up the course to suit the hosts.
Olympic champion Nelly Korda, on the other hand, disagrees. “I feel like we’re the underdogs because they’re defending,” Korda said.
“Obviously, the fans are cheering for you, and there are more eyes on Team USA, but I believe, as Megan [Khang] mentioned, we’re all embracing this and having a great time.”
“We’re all eager to get started,” Hurst said after revealing her foursomes’ first selections.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of effort for the last year and a half, and they’re excited to go out there.”