Suzann Pettersen admits she has some “big shoes to fill” after landing her dream role as Europe’s Solheim Cup captain.
Pettersen has made nine appearances as a player in the biennial contest, most famously being a controversial wild card selection by captain Catriona Matthew in 2019, holing the winning putt on the 18th green at Gleneagles and then immediately announcing her retirement.
The two-time major winner was also one of Matthew’s vice-captains as Europe retained the trophy with just a second win on American soil in Toledo in September and has now been handed the task of securing an unprecedented hat-trick of victories in Spain in 2023.
🇪🇺 SOLHEIM CUP CHAMPIONS 🇪🇺
— Solheim Cup Team Europe (@SolheimCupEuro) September 7, 2021
“It’s a dream come true to be able to captain the European team,” Pettersen told the PA news agency.
“I was just so honoured. It’s been a huge part of my career and obviously a new chapter now leading the way. I was told a few weeks ago and I’m excited to be able to share the news with my friends and the rest of the golfing world.
“I was hoping I was going to get a chance. Catriona did a fantastic job at Gleneagles, she did a fantastic job defending it in Toledo, winning away from home and now handing it over to me going for three in a row.
“She’s leaving some big shoes to fill to be quite honest. It’s a big task, a big challenge but like the way I played I’m going to give it my heart and soul and hopefully I’ll be able to get the best team together to give it a good solid try.
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— LPGA (@LPGA) August 31, 2021
“I was hoping she (Matthew) was going to go for three in a row, it’s always fun when you try to break records, but I think the energy we can take from the previous two wins is valuable experience for the team.”
Pettersen made her Solheim Cup debut in 2002 and was an ever-present in the side until a back injury forced her out of the 2017 contest just two days before play was due to get under way.
Two years earlier, the 40-year-old Norwegian had been at the centre of controversy in Germany after insisting she would not have conceded a short putt mistakenly picked up by one of her opponents, Alison Lee.
Spurred on by the incident, the United States recovered from 10-6 down heading into the singles to win by a single point.
“I love it because it spices up the normal routine as a golfer and at the same time I’ve had some of the highest highs and biggest lows in the Solheim,” Pettersen added.
“You go into it with your heart and soul and whether you win the match or lose the match it involves emotions all the way through the spectrum.
“You have the biggest stage in women’s sport and feel fortunate that you are one out of 12 to be able to team up and unite with your friends and competitors that you normally play against.
“The bonding and the team work means you don’t just fight for yourself, you fight for your friends and play for them and it’s just a different mentality.”