Captains back rookies to get off to flying start in Solheim Cup

Europe captain Catriona Matthew and opposite number Juli Inkster have backed their rookies to get off to a flying start in the opening session of the 16th Solheim Cup.

Inkster, who can become the first captain to win the biennial contest three times in succession at Gleneagles, picked five of the six debutants on her side for the Friday morning foursomes, while Matthew sent out two of her three rookies in the first two games.

“We wanted to try and get as many rookies out as we could the first day, the first morning,” Matthew said. “It’s just that it’s a long hang-on if they wait to go any later and they’re all keyed up, ready to go.

Catriona Matthew
Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew wants her side to get off to a good start (Ian Rutherford/PA)

“Both sides are wanting to get off to a good start. Being the home side I think to get off to a good start would really get the crowd into it so we’re really going to go out there and get the crowd into it and get some blue on the board and get a good start.”

English rookie and wild card Bronte Law will partner Spain’s Carlota Ciganda against Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex in the opening match, with former Women’s British Open winner Georgia Hall and France’s Celine Boutier up against Lexi Thompson and Brittany Altomare.

Germany’s Caroline Masson and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff will take on sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda in match three, with Charley Hull and Azahara Munoz up against Megan Khang and Annie Park in the final contest.

“They actually asked me to play together and I wasn’t too keen on it,” Inkster said of the Korda sisters, whose father Petr won the men’s singles title at the Australian Open in 1998.

“But the more I thought about it, it would be stupid not to play them. It’s not often you get two sisters on one team. They should have the right to play together.

“Jessica said ‘Why don’t you see how we play in the Dow (Invitational) together. If we kill each other then maybe not put us together, but if we do okay can you think about putting us together?'”

The sisters finished 12th in the tournament in July and Nelly, who is making her Solheim Cup debut, said: “We kind of know what ticks one another off and we know how to calm each other down as well. I think we handled it quite well at Dow and kind of got a game plan going.”

Jessica, who was part of the American team beaten in Colorado in 2013, added: “The other thing is that at Dow it was a little bit more stressful because you had to finish out (every hole). It was a really good test of how we kind of handle playing together so we really appreciated that opportunity.”

In 2013 a @SolheimCupEuro team featuring six rookies beat #TeamUSA, 18-10. The rookies played a big part in the victory, with a 12-5-3 record.

With six rookies on @SolheimCupUSA this year, history could be on #TeamUSA's side.@ronsirak's story ⬇️ https://t.co/5dRK6ftm0n

— LPGA (@LPGA) September 11, 2019

One noticeable absentee from the opening session was America’s Danielle Kang, who caused a stir in the build-up to the event by saying in a podcast that her goal this week to “take souls”, “make people cry” and “crush” the opposition.

Inkster insisted Kang’s omission was not related to those comments or that they would have any impact on the contest.

“I really don’t think the European team needs any ammunition,” Inkster added. “We’re both ready to go. We both want to play. I’m not sure someone could say anything to me to make me want to hit a shot any better than I do tomorrow morning.

“Things are said and everything’s kind of blown out of proportion a little bit. The bottom line is it’s a golf competition and we’re going to show them some impressive golf.”

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