Europe believe team spirit can be key to Solheim Cup

Team Europe's Carlota Ciganda
Team Europe's Carlota Ciganda
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Team harmony always seems to be questioned when it comes to the Americans. No surprise, really, when you recall captain Tom Watson being thrown under the bus by Phil Mickelson straight after a hammering in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, while there was also some infighting following an even heavier defeat in that event in France two years ago.

Based on the fact the US have won the last two Solheim Cups under her captaincy, Juli Inkster doesn’t appear to be in danger of suffering the same unfortunate fate as Watson at the Perthshire venue this weekend, yet it has still been suggested that the Europeans are more of a team in that strict sense than their opponents heading into this week’s encounter.

“I think that playing as a team comes very natural to Europeans,” said Spaniard Azahara Munoz, who is making her fourth appearance in the biennial event. “We enjoy each other’s company so much. And I think that’s what we have going for us. We grew up playing as a team a lot and the Americans is more of an individualistic lifestyle.”

Concurring, compatriot Carlota Ciganda added: “They like to do their own thing. They like to be the best at anything they do, and I think that’s really good. I think that’s why in singles they’re always very good. I think it’s just the lifestyle.

“I think Europeans, we’re more used to playing as a team. And we love that. I think Americans want to be leaders more. We’re just all one. We’re all the same. We are a team and we are Europe.”

After a first home defeat in the event in Colorado in 2013, the Americans turned to Inkster, who didn’t need the help of any taskforce to turn things around to produce wins at St Leon Rot in Germany in 2015 then back on home soil in Des Moines two years ago. “I just felt like we were getting away from the golf aspect of it,” she said. “We were worried too much about the face paint and scrunchies and the nails. I just wanted to get back to golf, be about the team and be about golf. And I think we’ve 
done that.

“I don’t mind some glitz or whatever. But I thought it was important, really, the first year to say: Hey, it’s work. We’ve made the team but we’re representing the United States. And to represent the United States we’re going to give it 100 per cent. And I just felt like we weren’t maybe doing that.”

Following some heavy rain over the past few days, the PGA Centenary Course is set to play its full length when the action gets underway tomorrow and Charley Hull is hoping that will favour the Europeans. “I like that because I feel like I’m hitting my irons pretty good this week,” said the 23-year-old, who is set for a big fortnight as she gets married to Ozzie Smith, an Impact Fight boxer, next weekend. “You come in with a lot of long irons and I’m also coming in with some rescues. So it’s playing pretty long.

“It’s kind of American-style golf course, but then you look around you’re in Scotland. It’s quite a fun golf course to play.

“And you can make some birdies because the greens are in such good condition. If you hit a good putt they’re going to go in.”

Compatriot Georgia Hall added: “I think we’re very confident. I think we’ve got one of the best teams we’ve had in a long time.”