As with the men’s Ryder Cup, the first few years of competition at Solheim were pretty boring. The fact that the American team was so superior to the European team (22-3 for men and 8-3 for women) took the excitement out of a tournament that, on paper, had all the numbers to be a major world event . Fortunately, the arrival of a great generation of continental players led by Severiano Ballesteros revived things, and three decades later the Europeans joined in the slipstream. Since they won in Ireland in 2011 with an outstanding performance from Azahara Muñoz, the paradigms began to change. The Europeans began to feel part of a team and not just a mere sum of individuals, something their rivals always fail to do. This feeling was reinforced two years later in Denver with the first victory on American soil, and since then respect for them has been lost to the point that they have triumphed in the last two editions and now have the historic chance to achieve exactly the third victory in Consequence to be achieved in Spain.
The golf course at Finca Cortesín de Casares (Málaga) has been specially prepared for the occasion and will be a great venue to showcase what golf is all about on the Costa del Sol, the most sought-after destination in Europe by fans. In addition to hundreds of exercise routes, there is also gastronomy, tourism and a climate that other countries cannot compete with. With these arguments, the organizers of Deporte & Business knocked on doors of all kinds for 14 years until they brought the tournament to Spain for the first time. In this way they aim to have a similar impact as the Ryder did after its passage through Valderrama in 1997. It is expected to revitalize women’s golf across the country and multiply the almost 100,000 existing women’s licenses. And now that the moment has come, all that remains is to add the sporting aspect and the epic, as they did with the great Ballesteros.
Europe starts as favorites
Apart from the world rankings, which always favor the North Americans, no one doubts the preference of the locals. Captain Suzann Pettersen has worked hard to build a team that combines experience and youthful courage, and her counterpart Stacey Lewis has accepted her position as a candidate. With the highest number of tickets sold for a golf tournament in Spain (100,000), the majority of which go into the hands of European fans, the support for Carlota Ciganda (the only Iberian in the team) and her teammates is guaranteed. In addition, the “Junior Solheim” girls, who played in the nearby club La Zagaleta in recent days, beat the Stars and Stripes by a clear 15:9. The European spirit and the classic cries of encouragement “olé, olé, olé” have been echoing throughout the province for days.
The game system will be the classic one of this biennial confrontation, with 28 points at stake. There will be two team days (two in “foursomes” and two in “fourball”) and a final Sunday with individual games. In all of them, the contribution of the captains is fundamental, as they have to decide both the pairs for today and tomorrow and the order in which they will go on stage on Sunday.
This strategy of shuffling golfers meant that Navarrese Ciganda, one of the veterans with five editions under her belt, will not play on the first day today. Her more erratic play off the tee makes it difficult for her to compete with the debutants in alternate ball, which is why she appears in best-ball mode in the afternoon, where everyone plays their own game. Still, he admits that “it’s a dream come true to be able to play this tournament in my country and it would be the final straw to win it,” while the former world No. 1, Nelly Korda, in a hushed tone, assumes that “I don’t care about the predictions or that I don’t care.” Consider us favorites. “Basically, both teams are made up of great players and everyone can win.”