2019 Solheim Cup: Player-by-player preview ahead of Europe v USA at Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course

We look at both teams ahead of the Solheim Cup
We look at both teams ahead of the Solheim Cup

Europe and USA are preparing to do battle in the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course this weekend, and we have a full rundown of each team.

Top women professionals from Europe and the United States will go head to head in the 16th edition of the Solheim Cup this week. The biennial competition, held between September 13-15, will be held at Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course, Scotland.

The event itself follows a similar format to the Ryder Cup, with 28 matches taking place across eight fourballs and eight foursomes over the first two days, and 12 singles on the final day.

A total of 28 points are available so 14 1/2 points are required to win the Cup, with 14 points needed for the defending champions (USA) to retain it.

Team Europe consists of the top three players from the Ladies European Tour (LET) Solheim Cup standings and the top five LET members in the Women’s World Golf Rankings who were not already qualified via the Solheim Cup standings. Team Captain, Catriona Matthew, has selected four wildcards.

Team USA consists of the leading eight players from the LPGA Solheim Cup points standings and the top two players in the Women’s World Golf Rankings that had not already qualified via the points system. Captain, Juli Inkster, has also selected two picks for the team.

Meet the teams...

Team Europe

Catriona Matthew (SCO) – Captain

Initially named vice captain for the 2017 Solheim Cup but was forced to put the spikes on herself following injury to Suzanne Pettersen. She will now solely be focussed on leading her troops on home soil when they tee up at Gleneagles.

With six LET and four LPGA titles to her name, the Edinburgh-born professional has had a fine career to date. The pinnacle of her 25 playing years came at the 2009 Women’s British Open where her three under par total secured victory from Karrie Webb at Royal Lytham.

It would transpire to be her only major championship and the first for Scotland in the women's game.

Carlota Ciganda (ESP)

  • World Ranking: 12
  • Age: 29
  • Caps: 3 (2013, 2015, 2017)
  • Record: Won 5 Lost 4 Halved 2

In 2012, her debut season, Ciganda won the LET’s Order of Merit and was named both Player & Rookie of the Year.

Ciganda has been in the top 30 of the world golf rankings since the 2017 Solheim Cup and, at number 12, the Spaniard is Team Europe’s highest ranked player heading into Gleneagles. She also leads the tour's stroke average at 69.13 and qualified top of the points list.

Perhaps the only surprising fact about Ciganda is the length of time since her last victory. This came in 2016 at the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational. She makes her fourth Solheim Cup appearance this year.

Charley Hull (ENG)

  • World Ranking: 29
  • Age: 23
  • Caps: 3 (2013, 2015, 2017)
  • Record: Won 7 Lost 3 Halved 1

First gave a glimpse of her talents age 10 when she appeared alongside Morgan Pressel in the Women’s British Open Pro-Am and has continued the rise since.

Made history in 2013 when, at the age of 17, she became the youngest player to have played in the Solheim Cup.

In 2014, Hull would go on to win her first professional event just days prior to her 18th birthday at the Lalla Mervem Cup. Most impressively, she overcame a five-shot deficit with a bogey-free 62 to force a playoff with Gwladys Nocera and then birdied the first playoff hole for victory.

Her golf game mirrors her personality – exciting. She is capable of making a lot of birdies and the format will allow her to do just that.

Azahara Munoz (ESP)

  • World Ranking: 36
  • Age: 31
  • Caps: 3 (2011, 2013, 2015)
  • Record: Won 4 Lost 6 Halved 1

Having been a key team member in the three previous, Munoz was absent from the Solheim Cup team in 2017.

During which time, she was suffering from Hashimoto’s Disease – a condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland leading to inflammation and affects the way the body regulates its functions.

Her treatment of the condition seems to have been a success. In 2019, Munoz has put together six top-10 finishes. She also posted a career best 63 (-9) at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Her run of form earned automatic qualification via her world ranking and it’s good to see the Spaniard, who represented Spain in the 2016 Olympics, back playing and feeling healthy again.

Georgia Hall (ENG)

  • World Ranking: 37
  • Age: 23
  • Caps: 1 (2017)
  • Record: Won 2 Lost 3 Halved 0

Her only professional victory on the main tour was the big one – the 2018 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes. Her -17 total secured a two shot victory over Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum.

The memorable scenes of her and her father, who caddied during the event, walking down the 72nd hole have lived long in the hearts of many. Hall was further recognised in the 2019 Birthday Honours with an MBE for her services to golf.

Caroline Masson (GER)

  • World Ranking: 48
  • Age: 30
  • Caps: 3 (2013, 2015, 2017)
  • Record: Won 3 Lost 6 Halved 2

A winner on both the LPGA and LET and the only German to have represented Team Europe for three consecutive Solheim Cups (2013, 2015 & 2017). An impressive streak that continues at Gleneagles and further writes Masson into the history books.

Anna Nordqvist (SWE)

  • World Ranking: 69
  • Age: 32
  • Caps: 5 (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
  • Record: Won 11 Lost 7 Halved 2

In only her fifth start on the LPGA Tour, Nordqvist won her first tournament, which just happened to be a major at the 2009 LPGA Championship.

The Swede has since added a second major to her name when she overcame a five-shot, 54-hole deficit to beat American Brittany Altoware in a playoff at the 2017 Evian Championship. She's also added six LPGA and three LET victories to the collection.

Perhaps most interesting was the epic singles duel with Lexi Thompson at the 2017 Solheim Cup at Des Moines. The duo traded birdies in a shoot-out that would ultimately be halved.

Good golf isn’t that interesting, is it? Perhaps not, but what many don't know is that Nordqvist’s then-boyfriend, now fiancé, Kevin McAlpine, was caddying for Thompson at the time. One presumes he's glad that match was halved. A repeat of this match at Gleneagles would be fascinating.

Anne van Dam (NED)

  • World Ranking: 99
  • Age: 23
  • Caps: 0

One for the golf swing aficionados to marvel over. They say perfection is unattainable in this game but try telling that to Anne van Dam. Her movement is arguably one of the best and rivals that of Adam Scott.

She has led the driving distance category in 2017 and 2018 and continues to do so this year. Her 282.62 yard average is a full five yards ahead of Emma Cabrera-Bello (LET) and a yard ahead of Angel Yin (LPGA). The Dutch native also averages the most (4) birdies per round.

There is far more substance to van Dam’s game than just driving distance. She won this season's Actewagl Canberra Classic and added a further two top-10s to the resume; making her debut by qualifying second on the Solheim Cup points list.

Caroline Hedwall (SWE)

  • World Ranking: 123
  • Age: 30
  • Caps: 3 (2011, 2013, 2015)
  • Record: Won 8 Lost 4 Halved 1

Consistent - adjective – acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.

Can you use it in a sentence?

With four top-five finishes in eight starts, Caroline Hedwall’s performances in 2019 are consistent.

Word-play aside, the Swede is a six time LET winner and qualified third on the points list. She also set a Solheim Cup record in 2013 by securing five points throughout the week.

Celine Boutier (FRA) - Wildcard

  • World Ranking: 60
  • Age: 25
  • Caps: 0

In February 2019, Boutier enjoyed her first LPGA Tour victory at the ISPS Handa Vic Open. In doing so, she ended a long drought for French players on the LPGA Tour and became the first female pro from France to win since Patricia Meunier-Lebouc in 2003.

Although only five foot tall, the former world amateur number one has a big game. This was showcased with her T5 finish in this year's US Women’s Open and sixth-place finish at the Women’s British Open.

Boutier makes her Solheim Cup debut following a captain's pick.

Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG) - Wildcard

  • World Ranking: 82
  • Age: 31
  • Caps: 2 (2013, 2017)
  • Record: Won 3 Lost 4 Halved 0

Qualified for the LET in 2012 by winning the Final Qualifying but has yet to breakthrough with a tournament victory.

She started the 2019 season in quick fashion with four top-10 finishes in her first five starts across the LPGA & LET. It's easy to see why as she ranks second in greens in regulation on the LET; finding the green 80.95% of the time.

The Northallerton-born will be looking to regain that form and validate her selection as a captain's pick.

Bronte Law (ENG) - Wildcard

  • World Ranking: 26
  • Age: 24
  • Caps: 0

Like Boutier, Law also enjoyed her maiden victory on the LPGA tour this year. In May, her 17 under total secured a two-shot victory at the Pure Silk Championship in Williamsburg.

After three solid rounds, she also found herself in contention at the Women's British Open however, a final round 78 ended the dream of a major championship.

Bronte isn't afraid to put on her snorkel and go deep. In 2018, she set an LET record (9) for the number of consecutive birdies and tied the record (12) for the total number of birdies in one round.

Having not played in the required number of events to gain an automatic place on the team, Bronte makes her debut following a captain's pick.

Suzann Pettersen (NOR) - Wildcard

  • World Ranking: 635
  • Age: 38
  • Caps: 8 (2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015)
  • Record: Won 16 Lost 11 Halved 6

Pettersen was previously named an assistant captain but Matthew saw the Norwegian as better suited for a playing role and selected her as one of the captain's picks.

Having only played twice in almost two years due to the birth of her son, Pettersen was a surprise pick for many. That said, with two major championships and a further 12 LPGA & seven LET championships on her resume, it's clear that Pettersen offers a level of class and experience to the team.

The Solheim Cup and Suzanne Pettersen have produced many memorable moments throughout the years. In 2017 she was a last-minute withdrawal following a back injury and just two years previous caused outrage with her involvement in a rules incident with American, Alison Lee. It's likely she will be the first name Team USA look for when the pairings are announced.


Team USA

Juli Inkster – Captain

The 31-time LPGA tour winner and seven-time major champion is the first three-time captain of Team USA.

In her first season on the LPGA Tour, Inkster won two major championships and took home Rookie of the Year honours. This achievement is yet to be matched.

Inkster has represented USA in the Solheim Cup nine times and in 2011, at the age of 51, became the oldest competitor in the Cup's history. She has also contributed the most points (18.5) than any other American.

She now serves as a FOX Sports golf analyst – providing insight for the US Women's Open, US Women's Amateur and US Girl's Junior Amateur Championships.

Lexi Thompson

  • World Ranking: 3
  • Age: 24
  • Caps: 3
  • Record: Won 5 Lost 2 Halved 4

Still only 24 years old, the biggest star in the women's modern game makes her fourth appearance in the Solheim Cup.

She came to the forefront of the golfing world when, at the age of 12, she became the youngest player to qualify for the US Women's Open – A record since surpassed by Lucy Li.

Lexi would continue to break records when, at the age of 16, she became the youngest ever winner on the LPGA Tour with victory at the Navistar PGA Classic. This record would last a year until 15 year old Lydia Ko took top honours at the 2012 Canadian Women’s Open.

Lexi has since gone on to win 11 LPGA titles and just shy of $10m in career earnings. She also holds the longest active streak on the LPGA tour by winning at least one event in the past seven seasons.

With 14 top-10s in the major championships alone, it’s surprising that Thompson has only managed to win one – the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship. With her peak years ahead of her, it's almost a certainty she'll add to that.

Nelly Korda

  • World Ranking: 10
  • Age: 21
  • Caps: 0

The younger sister of Jessica earned her LPGA tour card following a ninth-place finish on the 2016 Symetra Tour money list.

She would subsequently push on and earn her first LPGA tour title at the 2018 Swinging Skirts Taiwan Championship. This win made her and Jessica the third pair of sisters to win in LPGA history, joining the Jutanugarn sisters (Moriya & Ariya) along with Charlotte and Annika Sorenstam.

Nelly has been in the winner’s circle again this year following her victory at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Australia is a place close to the hearts of the Korda family – her father is a tennis Grand Slam Champion having won the 1998 Australian Open and Jessica also won the Women’s Australian Open in 2012.

Speaking of Jessica, Nelly said: "sisters by blood. Best friends by choice". It’s clear their relationship is a strong one and it may well be her sister partners the debutant.

Lizette Salas

  • World Ranking: 16
  • Age: 30
  • Caps: 3
  • Record: Won 4 Lost 4 Halved 2

Salas made it through the gruelling LPGA Tour School in 2011 and has since established herself. Her only victory came at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship where her 13 under total gave her a comfortable four-stroke victory from Lexi Thompson.

Although winless in 2019, Salas has posted a runner up finish in the Women’s British Open and a top 5 in the PGA Championship to qualify fourth on the points list.

Danielle Kang

  • World Ranking: 17
  • Age: 26
  • Caps: 1
  • Record: Won 3 Lost 1 Halved 0

Kang is one of the most energetic personalities in the game and that shows in her style of play.

Her first LPGA Tour came on the biggest stage at the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The scenes on the 72nd green was a testament to her personality as she was congratulated by seemingly every member of the field.

Although winless in 2019, she qualified third on the points list thanks largely to seven top-10 finishes – including the ANA Inspiration and KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

With a mentor in Butch Harmon, she is a hard worker and the stats would suggest a game trending for big things.

Jessica Korda

  • World Ranking: 18
  • Age: 26
  • Caps: 1
  • Record: Won 1 Lost 2 Halved 1

Korda is a five-time LPGA Tour winner - most recently at the 2018 Honda LPGA Thailand. Her astonishing 25 under total earned her a four shot victory from Lexi Thompson and Moriya Jutanugarn.

Despite having all the tools she is yet to break through in the major championships. With seven top-10 finishes (five of which in the last two years) it would seem it’s only a matter of time before the American hoists one of the big five.

Angel Yin

  • World Ranking: 31
  • Age: 20
  • Caps: 1
  • Record: Won 1 Lost 1 Halved 1

Yin is the second of the standout figures that will be on show at Gleneagles. At least in respect of driving distance. She averages a whopping 281.73 yards on the LPGA - Ranking second behind Anne van Dam.

The two went head to head in a long drive showdown in Portland earlier this month – Dubbed the 'The Rose City Rumble'.

Each player was given eight balls and Angel Yin drew opening honours. Of those eight, her longest drive measured in at 315 yards. Anne van Dam subsequently stepped up and, with her very first ball, ended any debate of who is the longest by smashing one 319 yards. The longest drive she went on to measure came in at 326 yards.

Similar to van Dam, there is far more substance to Yin’s game than just the long ball. Her T2 finish at the 2019 US Women’s Open demonstrates just that. Still – We’ll be hoping the two bombers go head to head in the singles.

Marina Alex

  • World Ranking: 32
  • Age: 29
  • Caps: 0

Only win came at the 2018 Cambia Portland Classic where her 19 under total gave her a four-shot victory from England's Georgia Hall.

Although winless in 2019, Alex has posted four top 10 finishes in 19 starts and only missed three cuts. Providing the debutant manages the occasion, her level head and consistency will make her an ideal foursomes partner.

Brittany Altomare

  • World Ranking: 33
  • Age: 28
  • Caps: 0

Came within touching distance at the weather shortened 2017 Evian Championship. A double bogey at the first play-off hole would end the dream of a major championship and hand the trophy to Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist.

She is a perfect 20 for 20 in cuts made for 2019 which includes three top-10 finishes – the bank manager's dream is another of team USA's rookies.

Annie Park

  • World Ranking: 42
  • Age: 24
  • Caps: 0

2018 proved to be somewhat of a breakout season for Annie Park. She made 17 of 19 cuts and posted three top 10 finishes. The pinnacle of the year came with victory at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer – Her winner’s check of $262k was more than her entire career earnings at the time.

Although winless in 2019, she has posted three top 10 finishes in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, Meijer LPGA Classic and Hugel-Air Premia LA Open and makes her Solheim Cup debut this week.

Megan Khang

  • World Ranking: 45
  • Age: 21
  • Caps: 0

Khang represented team USA at the 2015 Junior Solheim Cup and, in the same year, would earn her LPGA card by virtue of her T6 finish at LPGA Final Qualifying.

Her best finish on tour is a T3 at the 2017 Blue Bay, however, with two top-10 finishes in the 2019 Women’s PGA and 2019 Evian Championship, her best years are ahead of her. She makes her Solheim Cup debut this week.

Morgan Pressel – Wildcard

  • World Ranking: 55
  • Age: 31
  • Caps: 5
  • Record: Won 10 Lost 7 Halved 2

In 2001, at just 12 years old, Pressel was the youngest player to qualify for the US Women’s Open. That achievement stood until 2007 when Lexi Thompson qualified – beating her record by a matter of months.

She would go on to earn her first victory at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship and become the youngest ever winner of a modern major. That record would stand until Lydia Ko won the 2015 Evian Championship - Like Lexi, beating the record by just a matter of months.

Perhaps surprisingly is that her last win came over 10 years ago at the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic.

Pressel was a young golfing sensation and, at still only 31, has plenty to offer. She hasn’t quite produced the goods in 2019 – Her nine missed cuts offset against four top-10 finishes would suggest a battle with consistency. That said, the Florida native is more than capable of putting in a solid display at Gleneagles.

Pressel fully understands and embraces the spirit of the Solheim Cup and will be a key figure in the changing room for team USA.

Stacy Lewis – Wildcard

  • World Ranking: 81
  • Age: 34
  • Caps: 4
  • Record: Won 5 Lost 10 Halved 1

With five Solheim Cup rookies in the team, Juli Inkster has opted to add some experience with her first captain's pick.

Lewis is a 12-time LPGA tour winner which has included two majors at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and 2013 Women’s British Open. Her selection for the 2019 team means she is representing Team USA for a fifth straight Solheim Cup.

With eight missed cuts in 2019, including her last three starts, it would be easy to suggest Lewis enters the event in poor form. This season, however, has been a return to the professional ranks following the birth of her daughter - Chesnee.

She did offer a ray of hope at the 2019 Marathon Classic where her 16 under par total secured a third-place finish.


And finally...

In the 15 competitions through to 2017, the USA leads the series 10-5.

They are going for their third consecutive victory – something which they have managed twice already in the cup's short history (1994, 1996, 1998 and 2005, 2007, 2009) – and with an average WGR of 31 against Europe's 104 they arrive at Gleneagles the firm favourites.

Can Catriona rally her troops for what would be a surprising victory on home soil, or will USA continue to dominate?

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