Lady Golfer Interview: Solheim Cup star Jodi Ewart-Shadoff

Courses and Travel

Solheim heroine Jodi Ewart-Shadoff looks back on Europe’s record-breaking week in Colorado with Mark Townsend

When we last spoke to Jodi Ewart Shadoff at the start of 2012 she had just come through both the LET and LPGA Q Schools. 

It takes something special to cope with the pressures of one, let alone both in the space of just a few weeks.

She will now, at the young age of just 25, go down in the record books forever as one of the 12 Europeans who first captured the Solheim Cup on American soil. To add an extra sparkle to an incredible week Lotta Neumann’s heroines also posted a record-winning margin. They not only retained the prized trophy for the first time, they thumped their opponents by a whopping 18-10.

Ewart Shadoff was one of the Swede’s captain’s picks and her inclusion prompted the selection of compatriot Charley Hull at the close of the Women’s British Open at St Andrews. Weeks later they produced one of the stories of a week which was packed full of them.
When were you told you were on the team? 

I was told before the start of the Women’s British Open and obviously had to keep it quiet! I had been playing well and had a couple of top 10s in Majors. I also had a high finish in Ohio the week before St Andrews and had a good matchplay record as an amateur so I was hopeful but you never know. Then Lotta told me at the start of the week.

What was Lotta like as a captain?

She was awesome and is so laid back. All that helped to make everyone get on so well in the team room and the atmosphere was brilliant thanks to her.

How well did you know her assistants Annika Sorenstam and Carin Koch?

I had never met either before the Solheim and it was great to be able to pick their brains about their cup experiences and careers. After the first foursomes match Annika gave me some really good advice about getting away from having to hit the perfect shot; there is so much pressure and she said to play your own game and that everyone would hit a bad shot and that settled me down.

Can you talk us through the Spanish influence on the team bus?

Before the week we had a questionnaire and we had to pick songs for the team bus. Somebody from the LET put together a CD and one of the Spanish songs got everyone going on the team bus back to the hotel on the Friday night, I don’t think anybody sat down for the whole journey all the way home.

How did the nerves compare to Majors?

On the 1st tee it was definitely the most nervous I have ever been and it took a few holes to wear off. I hit the perfect tee shot at the 1st but it was on the greens where it was hard to settle down as I was putting so much pressure on myself. And, as is often the case in matchplay, I seemed to be getting a lot of the first putts and I was trying so hard to hole it. Looking back now it was so useful to go through that sort of experience as the week after in Canada there were no nerves and it was just like a leisurely round.

Did your partner Catriona Matthew try to talk you through those early holes or let you find your own feet?

A little bit of both, she was the most experienced player on our team which helped and she is such a calm player anyway so being around her helped. 

You were up against one of your best friends Jessica Korda, did you know that she had been sick halfway down the 1st fairway?

We thought we were going to have to play against one another at some point but when we heard the first-day draw it was unbelievable. It was nice to share that debut experience and it almost made it more comfortable. I don’t know how I missed her throwing up down the 1st fairway! You can see the difference in players’ demeanour between the rookies and the more experienced players particularly on the 1st tee.

What is the 1st tee like, as much as you want to interact with the fans you are more nervous than ever before?

There were two stands and the Europeans had a very small part of one of them but they made more noise than everyone put together so it was really cool. When Charley and I played together they started singing ‘England, England, England’ like the football song which was amazing.

2011 captain Alison Nicholas appeared to be leading most of the singing?

I’m surprised she had any voice left at the end of the week after all her efforts, a lot of the others didn’t.
We were walking to the 18th tee and Charley said she was a ‘bit nervous’ over the putt. I was in the corner of the green almost throwing up! What was the strategy with Charley?

We are very different players, she is fearless and aggressive while I tend to be down the fairway and middle of the green. We decided that I would hit first and get one ball in play and she could then be as aggressive as she wanted to be. And it worked out really nicely as I made four birdies and she had six.

Was it always the plan to play together?

We played in practice rounds together but not as a pairing. I wasn’t that surprised though as we were both playing really well and complemented one another. I think we had a 63 best ball. 

What is she like as a partner?

She is awesome, she is young and great to be around. She really doesn’t get nervous. When she made that birdie at the 17th to go one up against Paula and Lexi, we were walking to the 18th tee and she said she was a ‘bit nervous’ over the putt. I was in the corner of the green almost throwing up!

Could you imagine doing that at 17 years old?

I wouldn’t have been able to stand up never mind do what she did. 

Have you ever played in a match like that?

I was surprised we were put out in the first group, the first and the last groups are usually the strongest pairings and we were a pair of rookies. They shot a 65 and there were birdies pretty much on every hole.

Your drive at the 18th appeared to be the longest of the week, how pumped up were you?

I was so pumped up and had 152 yards in and I hit a 9-iron all the way to the pin and, even at altitude, that is huge. You know you are pumped up and the mistake is to swing too hard so I tried to swing about 60 per cent. 

What was said on Saturday night with a five-point lead and the chance to make history?

The captain and her assistants kept reminding us that it was far from over and to play our own games.  We only needed three and a half points but I looked at the scoreboard after about three holes of my match and there was just no blue on the scoreboard so I just told myself to get my head down and not look again.

Did you have any say in where you went out on Sunday (Jodi was in the 10th match)?

I was comfortable wherever I was playing. Everyone hopes it comes down to your match and you hole the winning putt but at 10th that looked unlikely. They didn’t ask us where we wanted to play, everyone was happy to play anywhere.

Where were you when you found that Europe had won?

I was walking down the 15th and I was three up at the time against Brittany Lincicome. 
We could hear all the singing coming from the 18th and one of the helpers was with me and she told me that we had won.

How long did the celebrations go on?

I went to bed about 2.30am and there were a few still left. We had our own team room in the hotel and we had a DJ come in, there were a lot of people in there and it was very cool. It is still really fresh now and I’m still getting congratulated in person and on Twitter. It was the best experience I’ve ever had on a golf course and I can’t imagine anything coming close to winning the cup on American soil.

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