The 2021 Solheim Cup: A Guide to the Action at Inverness Club
Everything you need to know about the biennial match-play competition, featuring the 12 best US players from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour and the 12 best European players from the Ladies European Tour (LET).
The Solheim Cup is headed to Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, in September, for the 17th staging of the contest.
Unlike the Ryder Cup, the dates for this edition of the world’s leading match-play competition for female golfers have been unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, following the announcement that the Ryder Cup will move to an odd-year schedule, after the 2020 competition was postponed by a year, the Solheim Cup will move to even years starting in 2024. Before then, Spain will host the 2023 Solheim Cup, at Finca Cortesín, in Andalusia.
Just two years on from Europe’s 14 ½ – 13 ½ victory in the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland, Catriona Matthew will return to lead the team and will attempt to become Europe’s first multiple Solheim Cup-winning captain. She was a key player back in 2013, when she holed the winning putt in Europe’s historic first away victory, at Colorado Golf Club.
Fast forward to 2021 and this year’s activities get under way with the first official practice day on Tuesday 31st August, which is Military Appreciation Day. Healthcare Hero Appreciation Day will take place on Wednesday 1st September and the anticipation will increase with Friday night’s Opening Ceremony at Promenade Park. Fans will get to experience a party atmosphere with a live concert by three-time Grammy Award winner Gwen Stefani.
The action proper starts with the foursomes and fourballs on Saturday, which is the start of the Labor Day weekend holiday in the United States. The winners will be crowned on Labor Day itself, a federal holiday observed annually on the first Monday in September, to recognise workers’ contribution to the American economy.
Besides Stefani and the 24 players, Inverness Club itself is expected to be a star of the show. Many LPGA players had the opportunity to play at Inverness Club when it recently hosted the LPGA Drive On Championship during the COVID-19 pandemic, in August 2020.
Since opening in 1903, the historic club has been the site of four US Opens and two PGA Championships. Speaking of stars, Byron Nelson, who served as head golf professional from 1940 to 1944, recognised Inverness Club as his home course and S.P. Jermain, their first Board President, was credited with conceiving the idea of the Ryder Cup.
While we can’t predict the 24 Solheim Cup players just yet, it’s worth looking at who is likely to occupy those coveted spots – and there is no doubting the strength of the Americans, who typically thrive on their home turf.
The American team is likely to include Danielle Kang, who won the LPGA Drive On Championship at Inverness Club just over a year prior to the Solheim Cup. Team USA’s strength does not end there, with the first five qualifiers all in the world’s top 20.
These include the World No. 1 Nelly Korda (at the time of writing) and her older sister Jessica, Lexi Thompson and Ally Ewing. Other contenders include Austin Ernst, Megan Khang, Jennifer Kupcho and Amy Olson.
In terms of strategy, US Captain Pat Hurst has disclosed that she will stick with the pod system this year, the team concept designed by Paul Azinger at the 2008 Ryder Cup.
Azinger saw how the US Navy turns recruits into SEALS by breaking the men into small groups who eat, sleep and train together, creating a strong bond. Former US Captain Juli Inkster split her team into groups of four at the last three Solheim Cups.
In six years, Inkster only went away from the pod system one time, on Saturday at Gleneagles. The pods she broke up lost – and Europe won the Solheim Cup by half a point.
In contrast, the European team is expected to feature a large mix of nationalities. Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark, who won the 2020 Race to Costa del Sol, is poised to make a second appearance having played under Annika Sorenstam in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2017.
There is likely to be the usual high number of English players including Mel Reid, Charley Hull and Georgia Hall. Rookie Alice Hewson, who won her first tournament as a professional in South Africa, occupied second position on the European standings, following her third place finish in the Scandinavian Mixed hosted by Henrik and Annika and will be keen to make her debut.
Reid, who narrowly missed out on a place on the 2019 team, embraced the role of Vice Captain at Gleneagles after stepping into Suzann’s Pettersen’s role when the Norwegian was selected as a wildcard. Reid has since won her first LPGA title, at the 2020 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer.
The 2020 AIG Women’s Open champion, Sophia Popov, from Germany, was the top European on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings at the time of writing.
Spaniard Carlota Ciganda will be a strong contender for a place, as will Celine Boutier from France, who finished second in the LPGA Drive On Championship at Inverness Club last year.
Dane Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Masson of Germany are the next highest players on the Rolex Rankings, all looking for one of Matthew’s six captain’s picks. There are plenty more players who are in the race for a place in the Solheim Cup, which will most certainly be the highlight of the year.
2021 Solheim Cup facts
When: Saturday 4th September to Monday 6th September 2021
Where: Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio
The Course: Par 71,6,434 yards
Designer: Donald Ross
How to watch: All three days on Sky Sports
Day 1 (Saturday) 4 x foursomes and 4 x fourballs
Day 2 (Sunday) 4 x foursomes and 4 x fourballs
Day 3 (Monday) 12 x singles
Team USA – Captain: Pat Hurst
Vice Captains: Angela Stanford and Michelle Wie West
USA: Team USA will comprise the top seven players in the USA Solheim Cup standings, the top two players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings not already eligible, and three Captain’s picks. The team will be finalised following the AIG Women’s Open (19-22 August, 2021).
Team Europe – Captain: Catriona Matthew
Vice Captains: Dame Laura Davies, Kathryn Imrie and Suzann Pettersen
Europe: Team Europe will comprise the top two players in the Europe Solheim Cup standings, the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings not already eligible, and six captain’s picks. The team will also be finalised following the AIG Women’s Open (19-22 August, 2021).
USA: Nine qualify, three wildcard picks
Europe: Six qualify, six wildcard picksAugust 26, 2021 7:43 am