Who to watch at the Solheim Cup — Best quotes from the Senior LPGA Championship — Must-click women’s golf links

The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, September 2, 2021

The week we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived! The Solheim Cup is set to begin on Saturday and we are in for an absolute treat with the stacked teams we have to watch this year. Though it’s set to be a battle for the ages, there are a few players in particular that I’ll be paying close attention to over the course of the week. Whether it’s because of their star power or rookie status, here’s who I’m watching in Toledo.

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Team USA – The Kordas

I’ll admit this one was a given. With Nelly being absolutely unstoppable this season after winning a major title, becoming world number one, and taking gold at the Olympics, and Jess’s affinity for the team competition having gone 3-0-1 in the 2019 Solheim Cup, the dynamic duo is hard to ignore when the red, white, and blue is involved.

The sisters are sure to be paired together at some point on Saturday and Sunday and it’ll be fascinating to watch how the yin and yang of their personalities jive on the golf course. We know how strong the Korda bond is so you can be sure that the golf world will be closely following their play at Inverness.

Team Europe – Matilda Castren

It’s an early call, but I think that Matilda Castren is one of the better stories to come out of golf this year. It’s not been paid as much attention as it deserves, however, the Finn has already proved herself to be one of the grittiest players on Team Europe and we haven’t even struck a shot yet.

If you aren’t familiar, Castren started 2021 as a second-year rookie after being one of many players whose inaugural year on the LPGA Tour was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. After a ho-hum start to her season, she won the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, prompting discussions of a potential Solheim Cup berth.

However, the 26-year-old didn’t have status on the Ladies European Tour which was what she needed to be eligible to make Team Europe. With the chips down and a dream on the line, Castren captured the Gant Ladies Open title in her home country of Finland, becoming a member of the LET and thus able to qualify for the team.

While she didn’t get in on points, it was her newfound eligibility coupled with the stellar form that made Castren an easy captain’s pick for Catriona Matthew and will tee it up in Toledo this weekend. Being a Solheim rookie is always a challenge, but if there’s anyone that can step up to the plate and make noise in her first showing, it’s Matilda. Watch for the Finn to play well. 

Team USA – Lexi Thompson

It’s no secret that Lexi Thompson can be hot and cold in the Solheim Cup. She went 0-2-2 in the 2019 edition of the competition, earning a full point with two halves in her two Fourball matches with Jessica Korda and Marina Alex. She lost in Foursomes with Brittany Altomare and was defeated by Georgia Hall in the singles. For some reason, Lexi just doesn’t seem to perform as well in the Solheim as one would expect her to.

The only times we’ve really seen Thompson fired up to play for Team USA is when she’s played with Solheim Cup stalwart Cristie Kerr. Kerr teed it up in nine straight cups from 2002-2017 and was paired with Lexi in the 2015 and 2017 editions of the event. The two won five points together in those two years so without Cristie around, it will interesting to see with whom Lexi gets paired for the Foursome and Fourball matches.

Considering she’s in a pod with past partner Altomare and rookies Mina Harigae and Yealimi Noh, it seems that Pat Hurst is looking for the veteran to be a leader on this year’s squad and hoping she’ll help fire up the less experienced members of Team USA.

Team Europe – Mel Reid

Can we all just take a second and express our gratitude for Mel Reid getting to play for Team Europe at Inverness? With very few players having the fire for team competition that the Englishwoman does, it’s a relief to have her back swinging a club at the Solheim and of course, she makes the list as someone else I’ll be watching closely in Toledo.

Some players are just built for this kind of week and are natural-born leaders in the team room with the love of continent and love of country on the line. Mel has always been animated on the golf course, but she’s even more so when wearing the blue and yellow. Much like Ian Poulter does for the Europeans in the Ryder Cup, look for Mel to be fist-pumping and chest-beating, hyping up her team to play their best, and rising to the occasion in the biggest moments that are sure to come at Inverness. 

It’s going to be a huge week for the 24 women that make up Team USA and Team Europe so make sure you find the time to watch the Solheim Cup. It’s one of those weeks in golf that you NEVER want to miss.

This week in women’s golf

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Tweets of the Week

Five at The IX: Best quotes from the Senior LPGA Championship

Trish Johnson on watching the leaderboard:

“First minute of every day. First minute first round. I just like to know where I am. It’s not going to make me any less nervous. I’m always going to be nervous regardless so I might as well know. If you don’t know coming up 18 if you need to make birdie or par to win, then it totally changes the way you play.”

Trish Johnson on the Pete Dye Course:

“It’s a weird one, this golf course. It’s very scorable if you’re playing really well, but if you’re playing a little bit badly it’s bloody impossible. If you drive the ball well, you can have a lot of short (approach) shots. I had a lot of short shots in today and it gives you every chance. I obviously like this place. It just suits my eye. It suits my game. So I enjoyed it but a long way to go.”

Laura Davies on the Pete Dye Course:

“It’s quirky. Let’s face it, it’s one of those courses that if you’re here with your mates with beers in the back of the cart, it’s the best course in the world. If you’ve got to make a score around that, you’re on tenterhooks the whole time because you know one really bad shot is a double or a triple. It doesn’t let you relax, but having said that it’s a really good course.”

Moira Dunn-Bohls on getting to compete again:

“Some days I’ll go out with husband and we’ll play nine holes but when you’re spending six or seven hours in the shop or are out on the range for a couple of hours teaching sometimes you just want to go sit which isn’t necessarily the best for your golf game. Usually a week or two before, I’ll kind of get in a groove where I’m hitting balls but it’s hard when you’re not playing tournament golf to jump right in and play tournament golf. It’s always fun to satisfy that competitive spirit that I have. It’s so nice to have a venue to go out and satisfy that and to go out and be an athlete again.”

Becky Morgan on playing the Legends of the LPGA versus the LET:

“It’s nice being a long hitter. Obviously, the golf course is set up a little shorter than the junior tours and such so it’s just quite nice having short irons into holes. I think my short irons are the best part of my game. I wore out my 9 iron this week so that was nice for me to have a lot of birdie chances. I came in thinking that I could do well. I’ve been playing quite well in Europe and I’m playing full-time so I have that advantage over quite a lot of people.”

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Sarah Kellam, @sarahkellam, LPGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08, NWHL Broadcaster
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer

Written by Sarah Kellam