The Solheim Cup debuted at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in 1990 as the ladies sought their own version of the Ryder Cup. That first edition saw two teams of eight compete over three days, with Team USA coming out convincing 11 ½ – 4 ½ winners.
The teams were increased to ten in 1992 and again to the twelve we see now in 1996. Following a brief shift to a slightly different format in 2000, the event reverted to the format we have now in 2002, which is almost identical to that of the Ryder Cup.
The US dominated the early editions, winning four of the first five but the last twelve have been evenly split with each team winning six apiece. Leaving the US ahead 10-7 on total wins.
The European team hold the record for biggest margin of victory, courtesy of their 18 – 10 triumph at Colorado Golf Club in 2013. An event that saw Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall become the first – and as yet only – player in the event’s history to win 5/5 matches.
Dame Laura Davies is the most experienced player in the history of the Solheim Cup, making twelve appearances between 1990 and 2011. She is also the highest points scorer, picking up a total of 25 points.
The US Team have twice recorded three wins in a row, from 1994-1998 and again from 2005-2009. This is a feat the Europeans will be hoping to achieve for the first time this week, arriving off the back of two tight and tense wins in the last two renewals.
The 2019 edition at Gleneagles saw the Europeans triumph in a 14 ½ – 13 ½ win that went down to the very last putt on the 18th hole. The final day saw the teams start all square at 8 – 8 and after eleven of twelve singles matches on the Sunday had been completed they were still locked together, at 13 ½ – 13 ½. It was all down to this year’s European captain, Suzann Pettersen, to hole a seven footer on the final hole to win her match against Marina Alex and regain the Solheim Cup; after which she promptly announced her retirement from professional golf.
Europe retained the title in 2021 back on US Soil at Inverness Club in Ohio. After the Europeans dominated day one, finishing Friday with a 5 ½ – 2 ½ lead, the US team reduced the deficit to two heading into Sunday, 9 – 7.
Team Europe did all of their best work early on that final day, winning four and tying two of the first seven matches, to effectively retain the trophy before Emily Kristine Pedersen won the final match to confirm the 15-13 victory.
This year’s renewal could be set to be one of the highest quality ever, with winners of four of the five 2023 majors taking part and with many players currently in excellent form. It looks almost too close to call.
Format & Schedule
Over the course of the three days, the opposing teams will compete against one another in a series of 28 match-play matches for points (1 for a win and ½ for a tie). All with the aim of collating that magic 14 ½ points to win the contest; 14 points enough to retain the trophy for the defending champions.
The schedule is as follows:
- Friday Morning: Foursomes (Alternate Shot)
- Friday Afternoon: Fourballs (Better Ball)
- Saturday Morning: Foursomes
- Saturday Afternoon: Fourballs
Captain: Suzann Pettersen
Celine Boutier (France)
- Solheim Cup record (Win – Loss – Tie): 5 – 1 – 1
- Rolex Ranking: 5th
Celine Boutier is the highest ranked player in the European side and is making her third Solheim Cup appearance after being on the previous two winning teams.
She has just one defeat to her name in seven Solheim Cup matches and has exclusively played foursomes with Georgia Hall, where they have won two and tied one of their three matches. Whilst she tied for top overall points scorer on debut in 2019.
Boutier is a player at the top of her game after winning a first major at home in the Evian Championship earlier in the year (one of three wins this year) and should be a formidable partner/opponent in any match she plays this week.
Charley Hull (England)
- Solheim Cup record: 11 – 5 – 3
- Rolex Ranking: 8th
Charley Hull debuted in the Solheim Cup as a 17-year-old and will be making her sixth consecutive appearance in the competition this week, having been on three previous winning teams in 2013, 2019 and 2021.
Her overall record in the event is strong but she looks at her best in pairs, where she has won or halved just under 79% of her fourteen matches during the course of her five appearances. She was the leading points scorer in the entire event in 2015; taking four of a possible five points.
Charley’s one of the most in-form players in the world currently, racking up four 2nd-place finishes in her last seven starts. This includes twice finishing as runner-up in majors, when 2nd in the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach and in the Women’s Open at Walton Heath.
Linn Grant (Sweden)
- Solheim Cup record: Rookie
- Rolex Ranking: 15th
Linn Grant is one of two star Swedes making their Solheim Cup debut this week along with Maja Stark and it’s expected that she’ll become a regular feature of this European team over the coming years.
Though making her debut in this event she is no stranger to team golf from her amateur days and has enjoyed great success. She was part of the winning Swedish team in the 2018/19/20 renewals of the European Ladies Team Championship and was also on the winning International team in the 2020 Arnold Palmer Cup.
Grant has been a winning machine since turning pro in 2021, gaining five wins on the LET, including that incredible nine-stroke win in the Scandinavian Mixed.
She transferred that winning habit to the LPGA this year, winning the Dana Open and as a player with little in the way of weaknesses in her game, she will be a tough nut to crack.
Georgia Hall (England)
- Solheim Cup record: 7 – 5 – 1
- Rolex Ranking: 16th
Georgia Hall is making her fourth Solheim Cup appearance this week after debuting in 2017. In this time she’s been an integral part of the European side, playing thirteen of fifteen possible matches.
She has an excellent foursomes record, not only with Celine Boutier but she won both foursomes matches in 2017 when paired with Anna Nordqvist. Whilst she went an impressive 4/4 in 2019 to tie top scorer honours with Boutier.
Hall was in good form earlier in the year when recording two 2nd-place finishes in a row on the LPGA and has maintained a solid level of form right throughout the year. I suspect her reliability in foursomes will see her as an important cog in the team again this week.
Leona Maguire (Ireland)
- Solheim Cup record: 4 – 0 – 1
- Rolex Ranking: 17th
Leona Maguire was the star of the show two years ago in Ohio, winning 4 ½ points from a possible 5 in her rookie appearance.
She won 2 ½ of those points with Mel Reid last time, who doesn’t appear this time around. However, with her steady ball-striking and magic short game, she will be an asset to whomever she is partnered with this week.
Maguire’s had some good periods of form this year, picking up a second LPGA success in the Meijer LPGA Classic in July; firing an excellent 8-under to close out that event.
Carlota Ciganda (Spain)
- Solheim Cup record: 7 – 8 – 4
- Rolex Ranking: 28th
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda makes her sixth straight Solheim Cup appearance and has reason to be as enthused as anyone; as the only Spaniard in the event for this first staging in Spain.
Though her pairs record in this event isn’t great, she does usually bring it in the singles, with three wins and a tie from five matches. The support she’ll receive in this home game may just bring about a best performance in the event since her 2013 debut, where she won each of her three matches.
Ciganda’s having a good year on tour, winning the Aramco Series – Florida event, finishing 3rd in the Women’s PGA and arriving here after a 3rd in the Portland Classic on her latest start.
Anna Nordqvist (Sweden)
- Solheim Cup record: 14 – 10 – 3
- Rolex Ranking: 39th
Anna Nordqvist is a playing assistant captain and the most experienced member of the European team; playing in her eighth Solheim Cup this week. Which will put her joint-7th on the overall appearances list.
She is usually a shoo-in for a spot in the foursomes, having played thirteen of the possible fourteen matches since debuting in the event in 2009. However it’s her fourballs record that stands out, with five wins in seven matches.
Nordqvist has had a solid year so far, with four top 10s in seventeen starts; a best of 3rd coming in the Women’s PGA Championship.
Maja Stark (Sweden)
- Solheim Cup record: Rookie
- Rolex Ranking: 40th
Maja Stark is our second Swedish debutant and much like Grant, it’s expected that she’ll become a permanent fixture on this side in the future.
She played on each of those winning Swedish teams in the 2018/19/20 European Ladies Team Championships and also took part in the International Crown earlier this year. Her Swedish side lost in the semi-finals but she did form a good fourballs partnership with Madelene Sagstrom, winning two and tying one of their three matches.
Stark has been a tad inconsistent in her first full LPGA season but did finish an impressive 4th in the Scottish Open just four starts ago.
Madelene Sagstrom (Sweden)
- Solheim Cup record: 2 – 4 – 0
- Rolex Ranking: 45th
The first of the captain’s picks is Madelene Sagstrom, who will be making her third appearance in the event. She played on the losing side in 2017 but returned to the fold in 2021, winning an important singles match on the final day.
Indeed, Sagstrom has won both of her singles matches in the event but has yet to pick up a point in the pairs. Though with how strong her and Stark looked in the International Crown fourballs, you’d expect that pairing to reappear this week and would maybe allow her to pick up a first win outside the singles.
Sagstrom’s best performance this year came when 12th in the Scandinavian Mixed. While her LPGA results haven’t been great through the middle part of the year, she’s looked better on her two latest starts, recording finishes of 26th and 14th.
Gemma Dryburgh (Scotland)
- Solheim Cup record: Rookie
- Rolex Ranking: 55th
Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh is another captain’s pick and the third and final rookie for Team Europe this time around.
The Scot has some solid match-play experience, having got to the quarter finals of the Bank of Hope Match-Play on the LPGA last year.
Dryburgh won on the LPGA for the first time last year, taking home the Toto Japan Classic. Though she hasn’t quite managed to build on that in 2023, she’s been consistent and recorded a first major top 10 five starts ago, when 8th in the Evian Championship.
Emily Kristine Pedersen (Denmark)
- Solheim Cup record: 3 – 4 – 0
- Rolex Ranking: 121st
Emily Kristine Pedersen will be playing her third Solheim Cup after getting a somewhat surprising captain’s pick this year.
She debuted in 2017 and had a time to forget, losing each of her three matches but had much better luck when returning in 2021, winning three of four. This included the final match of the event, when she beat Danielle Kang to give Europe the outright victory.
I say Pedersen was somewhat of a surprising pick as her form hasn’t been particularly strong this year. However, she has made nine of her last ten cuts and with the strong partnership she struck up with Charley Hull in 2021, I can see some reasoning.
Caroline Hedwall (Sweden)
- Solheim Cup record: 8 – 6 – 1
- Rolex Ranking: 122nd
Caroline Hedwall is the final captain’s pick and another surprising selection. She makes her fifth appearance in the event after playing on the winning teams in 2011, 2013 and 2019, and the losing side in 2015.
Hedwall is as yet the only player in the history of the event to collect the full five points in this format, something she achieved in 2013. However I do think this impressive achievement masks her overall record, as she’s only won one point from a possible six in her last two appearances.
She was playing some good golf at the end of last year, winning her seventh LET title in the Open de Espana but hasn’t carried that form over into this year. Starts have been infrequent and while she looked good in the Scottish Open four starts ago, finishing 6th, there have been few other positive signs.
Captain: Stacy Lewis
- Solheim Cup record: Rookie
- Rolex Ranking: 2nd
Lilia Vu is one of five rookies for the US team as they look to stop Europe doing the threepeat. She is the highest ranked player in the event, sitting at #2 in the world; thanks largely to her two excellent major wins this year, in the Chevron Championship and Women’s Open.
She has plenty of team golf experience from her amateur days, with the standout performance coming in the 2018 Curtis Cup – a similar event that takes place between the US and GB&I – where she won four of her five matches as the USA demolished their GB&I counterparts 17 – 3.
Vu also played an encouraging part in the USA finishing 3rd in the International Crown this year, gaining 2 ½ point from a possible 3 in her fourballs matches when paired with Nelly Korda and also recorded a victory in her only singles match.
I expect one of the biggest stars in world golf this year to have a major part to play in her debut Solheim Cup.
- Solheim Cup record: 5 – 2 – 1
- Rolex Ranking: 3rd
Nelly Korda enters her third Solheim Cup still searching for a first win after being on the losing side in each of the last two editions.
Having said that, she has performed with credit in each of those events, taking 5 ½ from a possible 8 points and has shown mettle on the final day by winning both of her singles matches. With the strength she carries in each area of her game, she’s as likely as any in the US side to play the full five matches this week and should be suited to being paired with anyone.
Korda’s form this year has been excellent, with eight top 10s in fifteen starts and a victory five starts ago in the Aramco Series – London.
- Solheim Cup record: Rookie
- Rolex Ranking: 10th
Allisen Corpuz is the second 2023 major winner in the US side – which came at Pebble Beach in the US Women’s Open – and also the second rookie on the team.
Despite her lack of experience in this event, she does have some high-class experience in a similar format from the 2021 Curtis Cup. She played three matches there and won each time; most notably winning both of her fourballs matches when paired with Rose Zhang. Her accurate ball-striking should make her a reliable partner.
Corpuz has continued to play some good golf since that major triumph, finishing 2nd in the Dana Open and 6th in the Women’s Open just four starts ago.
- Solheim Cup record: 1 – 3 – 2
- Rolex Ranking: 14th
Megan Khang makes her third appearance in the Solheim Cup after playing in the last two editions but she arrives here as an LPGA winner at last, having won the CPKC Women’s Open two starts ago.
Her record in this event is an inauspicious one, with just one win in six matches. Though as one of the strongest tee-to-green players and most consistent major performers on the LPGA, I see no reason why she can’t improve on that this year with a no doubt newfound level of confidence after that breakthrough win.
- Solheim Cup record: 6 – 6 – 7
- Rolex Ranking: 26th
Lexi Thompson has been a constant presence since making her debut in 2013 and will be playing her sixth Solheim Cup this week, making her the most experienced of the US side.
She enjoyed some great success in this event in her early years, playing an integral part in the 2015 and 2017 winning sides, winning three points from a possible four on each occasion. However, with 2 ½ points from a possible 8 on her last two appearances, her Solheim Cup form has regressed.
That is without mentioning Thompson’s relatively inactive and unimpressive year, where she’s made just five cuts in twelve starts. With all things considered, she may have to take a backseat this year with the superior golf produced by many of her teammates.
- Solheim Cup record: 2 – 1 – 1
- Rolex Ranking: 29th
2022 Chevron Championship winner, Jennifer Kupcho enjoyed a promising Solheim Cup debut in 2021, striking up a good relationship with Lizette Salas to win 2 ½ points from a possible 3 when paired together.
Barring two consecutive top 10s in July when 2nd in the Mizuho Americas Open and 6th in the Meijer LPGA Classic, her form hasn’t been up to the level of many here and with her game just looking a little flat, she’ll have to show some improvements to match or better her debut performances.
- Solheim Cup record: 2 – 5 – 1
- Rolex Ranking: 30th
Ally Ewing is making her third consecutive Solheim Cup appearance and is the first of the US captain’s picks for this year.
She hasn’t hit her stride yet in this event but does have a better record in fourballs than others. Winning matches when paired with Angel Yin and Nelly Korda in the past, which could point to potential pairings this week.
Ewing has been performing well of late, hitting the top 10 three times in her last five starts and finished 4th in the Kroger Queen City Championship on her most recent start – her best finish of the year.
- Solheim Cup record: Rookie
- Rolex Ranking: 32nd
It’s only been around four months since Rose Zhang turned pro and here she is, making her Solheim Cup debut this week.
The writing was on the wall for the generational talent after she won on her first professional start at in the Mizuho Americas Open in June. She then followed up by hitting the top 10 three times in majors over her next four starts and though form has tailed off a little over the last four weeks, everyone is eager to see what she can do on this stage.
Zhang has an abundance of winning experience in team events, having been on two winning Junior Solheim Cup teams and two winning Curtis Cup teams.
- Solheim Cup record: 5 – 7 – 0
- Rolex Ranking: 33rd
Danielle Kang is playing in her fourth Solheim Cup this week, having made her debut in the last US winning side in 2017.
She provided an important contribution there, winning three of her four matches but has taken only two points from a possible eight in her last two appearances.
Similarly to Thompson, Kang’s struggles for form this year may see her ceding some importance in the side to her better-performing teammates.
- Solheim Cup record: 3 – 2 – 1
- Rolex Ranking: 34th
Angel Yin is back for her third Solheim Cup after playing both the 2017 and 2019 renewals. She is the second of the captain’s picks for the US side.
Her record in the event sees her winning 50% of her matches, where she’s never lost in singles and has two wins in four fourballs appearances. She’s yet to appear in foursomes.
Yin’s unpredictable ball-striking may mean she is left out of those matches again but with some strong form this year, which includes a runner-up finish in the Chevron Championship and 6th in the Women’s Open, she should be an asset in fourballs and the quality of her short game could make her a frustrating opponent in the final day’s singles.
- Solheim Cup record: Rookie
- Rolex Ranking: 38th
Andrea Lee is the fourth rookie for the US, earning her way onto the team after a terrific breakthrough year in 2022; as she won her first LPGA title in the Portland Classic.
The Californian has twice been on the winning Junior Solheim Cup team and twice competed in the Curtis Cup, where she won half of her matches. Her match-play ability is further represented by a 4th-place finish in last year’s Bank of Hope Match-Play.
Lee struggled for form at the beginning of the year but has found something over recent starts, finishing no worse than 13th in her last five events. She’s an excellent, precision ball-striker and with the putter starting to behave, she may lowkey be one of the US team’s strongest performers this week.
- Solheim Cup record: Rookie
- Rolex Ranking: 49th
Completing the lineup is the final rookie and captain’s pick, Cheyenne Knight. She is a bit a wildcard this week by the fact she has less team golf experience – in either the pro or amateur ranks – than her teammates.
Having said that, she won her second LPGA trophy this year in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational; a stroke-play pairs event. Whilst she also showed some match-play prowess by advancing to the last 16 stage of the Bank of Hope Match-Play.
Knight’s better early season form has deserted her over recent starts but she’s an accurate ball-striking type with a good touch on and around the greens.
The Solheim Cup has taken us to a new course in every renewal and this year we land in Spain for the first time, at Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Andalucia. A spectacular Cabell Robinson design that opened in 2007 and is now rated among the best courses in Spain. It was previously seen hosting the World Match Play Championship in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
The course will this week play as a par 71, measuring 6318 yards; with nine par 4s (295-447 yards), five par 3s (167-195 yards) and four par 5s (476-531 yards).
Finca Cortesin is tree-lined and packed full of elevation changes. Though there’s a feeling of seclusion, the holes are relatively roomy and the sloping, undulating fairways are wide, massively so in places. Having said that, large and sometimes deep bunkers eat into the landing areas; with out-of-bounds areas and water in-play on four holes you can’t just smash driver with reckless abandon.
These defences also await around the small, speedy and subtly-breaking greens. Many are elevated and aside from being heavily-bunkered, they are protected by some severe slopes and run-offs, which will punish a lack of precision.
The course opens with a true risk/reward hole; a short 295-yard par 4 which will be reachable for many but requires you to drive over water.
It closes with the inviting 495-yard par 5, where players will hit a downhill approach into a sand-surrounded green, with out-of-bounds left and thick vegetation to the right. Holes which typify match-play golf.
Conditions are set to be bright and warm throughout the week, which should help towards the fans creating a great atmosphere in Spain. With nothing more than a mild breeze predicted, the playing conditions look nigh-on ideal for the players.
2 pts Europe 14 ½ – USA 13 ½ (Correct Score) – 10/1
2 pts Europe 15 – USA 13 (Correct Score) – 10/1
I found it tough to separate these teams and so did the market; Europe rated the slender even-money favourites, with the USA at 11/10.
Whilst the USA have the two highest ranked players in the event, the European team has more players currently sat inside the top 20 in the world; with five against the USA’s four.
Both teams come into it with players showing a similar level of form but there are two big question marks in the US side, in the shape of Lexi Thompson and Danielle Kang; who may have had their places in doubt had they not qualified automatically, such has been their lack of form this year.
That, combined with the home support has me edging towards the Europeans and I suspect we’re in for a tight home win this year, with a repeat of either of the winning scores in the last two renewals very much on the cards.
4 pts Charley Hull (Top European Points Scorer) – 6/1
2 pts Charley Hull (Top Combined Points Scorer) – 11/1
Charley Hull has arguably shown better form than anyone here over recent months and I’m expecting her to steal the show in Spain.
She arrives in terrific form with that series of runner-up finishes over the last couple of months and is the third best putter of these players this season, ranking 13th in the LPGA – always an important factor in match-play. Whilst it’s been encouraging to see some improved approach performances of late.
That Solheim Cup record of 11 – 5 – 3 gives her a percentage of 65.8% of points won overall – as good a percentage you’ll find anywhere from players to have played 10+ matches – and I expect her to add to that this week.
1.5 pts Andrea Lee (Top USA Points Scorer) each way (1/4 – 3 places) – 12/1
1 pt Andrea Lee (Top Combined Points Scorer) each way (1/4 – 4 places) – 25/1
Over to the USA side and whilst I think Lilia Vu may be the standout, I’m taking a punt on Andrea Lee making a big impact on her Solheim Cup debut.
Those latest form figures of 9-9-13-10-11 are impressive and are largely engineered by her approach play, which she ranks 10th for on the LPGA this season; only Meghan Khang ranks higher of the players in this event.
It’s been encouraging to see the putter improve – an area in which she looked good last year – producing four of her six best putting displays this year over those recent starts.
The only problem with Lee is that we’re unsure how much she’ll feature but she has better current form than most in that side and if she starts strong, her week could snowball into something big.