Average Golfer's rare foray into women's golf is highlighted this week by the 2009 Solheim Cup being played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, IL. The venue sounds like a spot to pick some apples after a hearty pancake breakfast. The matches shape up to be noticeably in favor of the US squad. Never discount the intricacies of match play however when all you need to do is win the hole. Disaster holes mean only that, one hole. I'd bet Padraig would have preferred match play in the last two weeks.
Our favorite betting site, Ladbrokes, has installed the USA squad as a 1.22:1 favorite. The European contingent lays at 5:1, or you can attain 12:1 odds on the match ending in a tie. The USA carries a 7-3 match record into this event having never lost on home soil. Led by the likes of Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, veteran Julie Inkster and rookie Michelle Wie, the US team has no one ranked lower than 51st in the world. The Euros feature Laura Davies, who has played in every Solheim Cup, Suzann Pettersen, Sophie Gustafson, Women's British Open winner Catriona Matthew, and Helen Alfredsson, returning to play after serving as captain. Full teams listing.
Unlike it's male counterpart of late, this one seems to lack the controversy that can drive interest and excitement. The most controversy that exists is still within the US team from two years ago when the highly charged Dottie Pepper, a US Solheim legend, in her capacity as golf commentator, referred to the US team as "Chokin', freakin' dogs" during a low point in the '07 matches. Ms Pepper unfortunately forgot the axiom that any microphone within range should be considered an open microphone. Perhaps some tension will develop on the course with spirited play. It would serve to pique my interest level to see a little personal competitiveness. "Nice shot, nice shot, pick it up" is a recipe for an early nap. Davies and Alfredsson can spark the Euros while Creamer and Christina Kim are more than capable of the same for the US.
Team match play often comes down to pairings, the Woods/Mickleson pairing in the Ryder Cup being a prime example of the negative buddy system. I see a Wie/Creamer or Wie/Kim as being a lightning rod for some action. For a greater analysis of the players and potential pairing you must read The Constructivist's article at Mostly Harmless. This scion of women's golf has forgotten more about the LPGA and LET than I know.
It may be almost time to rethink the relevancy of the USA/Europe match up as the world's #1 player is Mexican and the dominant country is South Korea. Regardless, there's some tradition sewn into these matches and that discussion can be back- burnered for a bit. Let's hope for some good weather, compelling matches and enjoy the fact that professional athletes are playing for their respective countries, not for mind numbing purses with even second place prizes that create instant tax problems. Enjoy.