Solheim Cup: 'Super confident' Anna Nordqvist to lead Europe

Anna Nordqvist, the AIG Women’s Open champion, will lead holders Europe into battle alongside rookie Matilda Castren in the opening session of the 17th Solheim Cup in Ohio.

Anna Nordqvist talks with Matilda Castren during a practice round ahead of the 17th Solheim Cup at Inverness Golf Club in Toledo, Ohio. Picture: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

European captain Catriona Matthew said she had handed Nordqvist the responsibility of being first into the firing line at Inverness Golf Club in Toledo on the back of her timely third major win at Carnoustie last month.

“Coming off her victory at the AIG Women’s Open, she’s champing at the bit,” said Matthew of the Swede, who is married to former Scottish Amateur champion Kevin McAlpine. “She’s super confident, and we wanted her to lead the team out.”

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Nordqvist and Castren, who is the first Finnish player to compete in the biennial event, will be up against Danielle Kang and Austin Ernst in the first of four foursomes matches on the opening morning of the three-day contest.

“No, not at all,” replied Matthew to being asked if she was concerned that Nordqvist being raring to go might backfire rather than working in her favour as the Europeans bid to get off to a strong start in their quest to land only a second victory on US soil.

“This is her seventh Solheim Cup, so I think she is one of our team leaders, and I think it's a great honor for her and Matilda to go out first.

“Obviously Matilda has been playing really well this year, winning the LPGA Mediheal Championship on the LPGA Tour, knowing she had to do that to be part of the Solheim Cup, and we have great confidence in her.”

The same applies to Leona Maguire, with Ireland’s first representative in the event also being blooded straight away alongside Mel Reid, their opponents being the Korda sisters - Nelly and Jessica.

“Leona is another player on our team who's been playing really well on the LPGA, just kind of trots out the results every week,” said Matthew of former amateur world No 1 Maguire. “She's just a very steady player. Hits a lot of fairways, hits a lot of greens, and makes a lot of birdies; great putter.

“I think her and Mel, they've really got to know each other the last couple of days, and I think their games kind of complement each other. Leona is a fantastic green reader and fantastic putter and Mel has perhaps got that little extra bit of length.”

After picking up three points from three games together in the dramatic 2019 win at Gleneagles under Matthew’s captaincy, Georgia Hall and Celine Boutier have been teamed up again, with Charley Hull and Dane Emily Kristine Pedersen joining forces in an exciting anchor pairing for the visitors.

“We were kind of probably ready to go today,” said Matthew, who is bidding to become the first European captain to win back-to-back encounters. “We were wishing this was Saturday. We're all fired up and can't wait for tomorrow and the competition.”

US captain Pat Hurst has decided to leave her three rookies out of the first session, saying: “Foursomes for us is usually the more difficult format, so we want to put out people who are feeling a little bit more comfortable. That's why we went with more veterans out there.”

Foursomes pairings (European names first; UK times)

12.35pm Anna Nordqvist and Matilda Castren v. Danielle Kang and Austin Ernst

12.47pm Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall v Ally Ewing and Megan Khang

12.59pm Mel Reid and Leona Maguire v Nelly Korda and Jessica Korda1.11pm Charley Hull and Emily Kristine Pedersen v Lexi Thompson and Brittany Altomare

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