Europe vice-captain Davies backs home advantage in Solheim Cup
Vice-captain Laura Davies believes Europe are a “good bet” to regain the Solheim Cup and prevent a third straight victory by the United States.
Juli Inkster’s side are odds-on favourites to win the biennial contest despite the late loss of veteran wild card Stacy Lewis due to a back injury which left the 34-year-old in tears during a practice round at Gleneagles on Monday.
However, Davies believes the bookmakers may have made a rare mistake in underestimating the importance of home advantage, with four of Europe’s five wins coming on home soil and half of them coming in Scotland.
“I think we’re 2/1 outsiders which I think is a good bet because I think our squad is really strong,” said Davies, who played on the winning side at Dalmahoy in 1992 and Loch Lomond in 2000.
“The American team is incredibly good. But I think home soil evens it out a bit and hopefully our girls will step up, because it will come down to Sunday afternoon, it always does.
“And I think we’ve got the right players that can step up and do the job under the most extreme pressure. I think we’ve got a great chance.”
On paper, and specifically by world rankings, the United States deserve to be favourites, but Davies added: “I think world rankings has a lot to do with it. I just think home soil outweighs most things.
“We haven’t won away from home much, but we’ve done most of our winning on European soil, and that has such a huge bearing. And if the weather is good for the week, the galleries will be really noisy. And that’s what we need.
“Everyone says we want a bit of rain for the Americans. No, we want it beautiful weather so the galleries can get out there and enjoy themselves and just cheer us on and be the 13th man out there, because that’s what the home soil advantage gives you.”
With Lewis replaced by world number 51 Ally McDonald, half of the American team are rookies compared to just three on the European team, one of whom was as surprised as Davies to find out the odds on offer.
“I’d love to know who said that we weren’t favourites,” said world number 26 Bronte Law, who won her first LPGA Tour title earlier this season. “But I think that’s interesting. We have our home-course advantage. We’ve seen the course before this week.
“We have a lot of players that are playing really good golf right now. So I’m not sure what sort of information they’re getting. But that’s interesting.”
Europe captain Catriona Matthew will not care one way or the other who is favourite as long as she can lead her side to victory on Sunday, an achievement she feels will surpass anything she achieved as an individual.
“To be a winning captain here would probably rank just above my British Open
win,” the 50-year-old Scot said. “I’ve always felt the Solheim Cup has been a highlight of my career when it comes around every two years.
“The feeling is great in the squad. I think we’ve got a great team here, we’ve got a real mix of personalities. Maybe I’m oversimplifying this but we’re really just here to keep them happy, keep them loose, obviously do the pairings and things like that.
“And then once they’re on the golf course there’s really not much we can do. We are just cheerleaders on the side hoping they hole the putts.”