The US may lead Europe 10-5 in Solheim Cup wins, but Annika Sorenstam is certain that will change
Between 1994 and 2007, Annika Sorenstam represented Europe in every edition of the Solheim Cup.
In those eight appearances, she contested 37 matches over the three formats, winning 22 and halving four more.
Ten years on from her last playing appearance she captained Europe and, although it ended in defeat, she says she “loved it”.
I caught up Sorenstam as the teams for this year’s edition get ready to head to Gleneagles…
Was captaincy all that you expected it to be?
I’d been the vice-captain three times and I enjoyed that but the captaincy gave me a lot more.
The preparation, getting involved with the players, getting to know the LET staff and building that team that we needed for the week along with the strategies and logistics, I loved that stuff, it was fun.
We had a great atmosphere; the result was not what we wanted, but I thought the players played exceptional golf. It was actually quite close, and I loved every minute of it.
Looking back, that was one of my career highlights, although playing was more fun, but now I’m not playing, this was second to best. I loved it.
What was your best decision?
We had a lot of tough decisions with Suzann Pettersen‘s and Charley Hull’s injuries because of the way that the picks are.
One of the best decisions was the team that I picked. We picked a great team and there were a lot of last-minute adjustments that we needed to make.
I wanted the players to be part of it from the beginning, giving their input about what they wanted to do and who they wanted to play with. It wasn’t about me; it was about them.
And your worst decision?
I’m sure I made a lot of mistakes, but I try not to look at the negatives. It was a difficult week with the players changing but overall, I don’t look back and think this was good and that was bad, it was just a great week.
Do the Solheim Cup teams have the same sort of resources as the Ryder Cup in terms of statistics?
We did. I think the team did a good job although we should have had it done earlier. I am a believer in statistics and always have been but to use them you need to have time so that you have the right number.
Every tournament needs to be covered in the same way otherwise it doesn’t make any sense. It’s all about resources and with the women playing all over the place, its quite hard to get the right information and it need to be more specific for the Solheim Cup.
Have you spoken to Catriona Matthew?
I spoke to Catriona early on when she had just been announced last year and she was just picking my brain. It’s fun to be able to share what you’ve learned, but she was also an important part of what I did.
It’s important to be a vice-captain before you’re a captain to get your feet wet.
What sort of a captain is Juli Inkster?
She’s very intense, there’s no doubt about that. She is well-liked by her players and has her own style but as it’s her third time doing it, she must be doing something right.
Does the Solheim Cup need to adapt to include more nationalities?
I like it the way it is, it’s really good. If you look at the way that the players are ranked on each team, it’s quite similar now.
You could argue that the most represented country now in terms of rankings would be Korea – they do already have the UL International Crown which is a team event, but that tournament is so different to the Solheim Cup.
One day we will see Europe win again and we will have dominant players from Europe and then this question won’t be asked again. We should keep the tradition; it takes time to build tradition. It’s exciting when we go and the support is there so I wouldn’t change anything right now.
Given that there are only six Europeans and 12 Americans in the top 50, do you still think the Solheim Cup has the same relevance as when you were at the height of your powers?
Well, it’s a very good question. The global game is different, you know. I do feel like we have lots of interest, and I feel we’re competitive.
They do have other events for the Asian players like the UL International Crown. I do think that the Solheim Cup is still a good thing and it starts at the home, meaning the countries in Europe.
Each country’s federations have a responsibility to inspire the next generation to play the game and provide the opportunity so that we can start to build a European force in golf.