CASARES, Spain — The opening tee shots of the 2023 Solheim Cup are just hours away and the first group of pairings have officially been announced.
Friday morning’s foursomes pairings and matches at Finca Cortesin on Spain’s southern coast were released during the opening ceremony Thursday night at nearby Marbella Arena, with none other than U.S. star Lexi Thompson, who has struggled this year, set to take the first swing alongside Megan Khang against European and Swedish rookies, Linn Grant and Maja Stark.
Notably on the bench for the American side are world No. 2 Lilia Vu, who won two major championships this season, as well as rising star Rose Zhang, who has a penchant for match play.
“I wanted to get off to a good start. I wanted to get out four really good pairings and that’s kind of been my focus this whole time,” said U.S. captain Stacy Lewis. “So it was more about who matched up together versus even — I didn’t even look at who was sitting, to be honest. I wasn’t even worried about who was sitting. It was more just what are my best four options.”
“For my sake, I feel like I’ve had these four pairings down on paper for quite a few months now,” added European captain Suzann Pettersen. “It was more like in what order do you play ’em.”
Check out the four matches and pairings, as well as the eight players who will ride the pine pony for the first session of matches at the 2023 Solheim Cup. (Note: Spain is six hours ahead of Eastern Time in the U.S.)
2:10 a.m. ET – Lexi Thompson and Megan Khang vs. Linn Grant and Maja Stark
In two previous appearances, Kang has never won in foursomes (0-2-1), while Thompson holds a 3-2-1 record in her team-leading five previous Cups.
“I will tell you Lexi has looked unbelievable this week and that was part of reason that she’s in there,” said Lewis. “I think she’s got the most experience on our team, and I wanted her to go out there and have that first tee shot. I think she’s earned it. But she’s looked so good this week.”
Grant and Stark are good friends who were pushing for European captain Suzann Pettersen to play them together and out first.
“I think I’ve almost had ’em set first out for a year now, literally, since they both played in Europe,” said Pettersen of Grant and Stark. “I just thought it would be so — such a cool experience for them to lead off here in Spain. And then I did see an interview with Maja in Evian where she had a walk-and-talk. I don’t remember what media. She said I would be stupid if I didn’t play Linn and Maja, so I thought, why not.”
2:22 a.m. – Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee vs. Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall
U.S. captain Stacy Lewis went with a veteran-rookie pairing in the second slot while the Europeans will roll out Boutier and Hall, who over the last two Solheim Cups have gone 2-0-1 in foursomes (and are also 1-0-0 in fourball).
2:34 a.m. – Nelly Korda and Allisen Corpuz vs. Leona Maguire and Anna Nordqvist
Anyone else noticing a trend with the American lineup? Veteran Nelly Korda will play with rookie Allisen Corpuz as her usual foursomes partner and older sister, Jessica, isn’t on this year’s team. The Sisters Korda were previously 2-1-0 together.
As for the Europeans, Pettersen said her pairing of 2021 Solheim Cup darling Leona Maguire and playing assistant captain Anna Nordqvist came down to their similarities.
“Well, they have very similar games. Very steady. They obviously know each other really well,” said Pettersen of her pairing. “They have a ton of experience — well, Leona has probably a little bit less than Anna, but Leona is, you just want to get her off that first tee and just keep her on the course as much as you can.”
2:46 a.m. – Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight vs. Charley Hull and Emily Pedersen
Hull and Pedersen is another former pairing for the Euros as the two went 1–1–0 in 2021 in foursomes (and 1-0-0 in fourball). Ewing has paired with three other players in foursomes in her two caps for the Americans and has yet to win (0–2–1), but did halve a match with Khang in 2021. She’ll join Cheyenne Knight, who is making her event debut this year.
Sitting out Friday morning
It’s a bit shocking to see Spain’s Carlota Ciganda sitting out the morning session as the local fan favorite would surely juice the crowd early. Rookie Gemma Dryburgh is also sitting alongside Caroline Hedwall (3–1–0 in foursomes in four appearances) and Madelene Sagstrom (0–1–0 in foursomes in two appearances).
Lewis opted to leave world No. 2 and two-time major champion Lilia Vu out of the first session and addressed the reason why in a press conference earlier during the day.
“I don’t see anybody playing all five sessions. So they all needed some rest at some point and just wanted to give her the morning to just kind of regroup and get herself together,” said Lewis of leaving Vu outside the ropes on the sidelines. “She somewhat asked for it a little bit, somewhat didn’t. It was kind of my idea. So, yeah, I mean, you’re going to see her a lot, other than that first session. You don’t win two majors and sit on the sideline for very long.”
Jennifer Kupcho (1-0-0 in foursomes), Angel Yin (never played foursomes in two appearances) and rookie Rose Zhang and will also sit during the morning session.