Solheim Cup capsules: Meet the European team

Golf Channel

The Europeans will be enjoying more than the home-field advantage in Scotland this week.

They’ll be enjoying a more experienced Solheim Cup roster. The Euros have combined to win 59 Solheim Cup matches in their careers, more than twice as many as the American team coming to Gleneagles.

Here’s a closer look at the European team.

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Carlota Ciganda

Age: 29

Country: Spain

World ranking: 12

LPGA victories: 2

LET victories: 3

Major championship titles: 0

Solheim Cup record: 5-4-1

The lowdown: The highest ranked European in the world, Ciganda is the team’s total ball-striking package. She hits it long. She’s 10th on the LPGA in driving distance (273 yards per drive). She’s a strong iron player, ranking 19th on tour in hitting greens in regulation. She’s a good putter, ranking sixth in putts per GIR. She’s in contention a lot, racking up seven LPGA finishes of T-7 or better this year. And she’s on a lot of leaderboards in majors, with five top-10s in the last nine majors. A better closing kick is all that seems to be holding her back from winning more. She’s got that closer’s mentality in the Solheim Cup, though. In her three appearances, she has never lost in singles (2-0-1).

Bronte Law

Age: 24

Country: England

World ranking: 26

LPGA victories: 1

LET victories: 0

Major championship titles: 0

Solheim Cup record: Rookie

The lowdown: This young Englishwoman seems born for match play. She’s feisty, a fighter with some competitive bravado. Three years ago, she became the first player from Great Britain and Ireland to go 5-0 in the Curtis Cup. Last fall, she helped England make a hard run at nearly beating out the South Koreans for the UL International Crown title in South Korea. Law showed her chops at the LPGA level earlier this year, breaking through to win the Pure Silk Championship at Kingsmill. She’s one of Catriona Matthew’s four captain’s picks.

Charley Hull

Age: 23

Country: England

World ranking: 29

LPGA victories: 1

LET victories: 2

Solheim Cup record: 7-3-1

The lowdown: Like her fellow English players, Hull likes match play. She showed that in her very first Solheim Cup, stunning Paula Creamer, 5 and 4, in Colorado in 2013. Hull was just 17 back then, the youngest player in the history of Solheim Cup play. Still just 23, she has won more Solheim Cup matches than any American except Morgan Pressel in this year’s event.

Georgia Hall

Age: 23

Country: England

World ranking: 38

LPGA victories: 1

LET victories: 1

Solheim Cup record: 2-3

The lowdown: Hall is one of just three major champions on the Euro roster. She was the LET’s Order of Merit winner in 2017, playing her way on to her first Solheim Cup team. She earned her LPGA tour card at the end of that year, tying for seventh at Q-School. Her Solheim Cup experience seemed to help her blossom in 2018, when she won the AIG Women’s British Open as an LPGA rookie. European captain Annika Sorenstam saw so much in Hall, she played her in all five sessions two years ago. Hall hasn’t followed up as well as she would have liked this season, with just a single top 10.

Azahara Munoz

Age: 31

Country: Spain

World ranking: 36

LPGA victories: 1

LET victories: 5

Major championship titles: 0

Solheim Cup record: 4-6-1

The lowdown: The Spaniard can putt, and that’s a big deal in international team play. She’s the second best putter from Europe this year, statistically speaking, trailing only her fellow countrywoman, Carlota Ciganda. Munoz is No. 9 in putts per GIR in the LPGA ranks. Munoz didn’t make the European team that went to Iowa two years ago, but she has fought back from illness (Hashimoto’s disease) and a slump to return to form with six top-10 LPGA finishes.

Caroline Masson

Age: 30

Country: Germany

World ranking: 49

LPGA victories: 1

LET victories: 1

Major championship titles: 0

Solheim Cup record: 3-6-2

The lowdown: Masson is a Solheim Cup veteran set to play in the event for the fourth consecutive time. She was 2-1-1 in her debut in the event in Colorado in 2013, helping the Euros to a record rout (18-10) of the Americans. She’s a strong iron player who hits a lot of greens. She’s coming off a T-7 finish at the CP Women’s Open in her last start. She had a T-5 finish at the Marathon Classic at the end of the July as part of a strong push to nail down her spot on the European team.

Solheim Cup capsules: Meet the American team

Celine Boutier

Age: 25

Country: France

World ranking: 56

LPGA victories: 1

LET victories: 2

Major championship titles: 0

Solheim Cup record: Rookie

The lowdown: Boutier is enjoying a breakout year in the LPGA. She won the ISPS Handa Vic Open in her first start of the season. It’s one of her four top-10 finishes in a solid year of progress. She hits a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, owning the kind of skills that work well in foursomes play. She’s an inspiring story for the LPGA’s “Drive On” theme this year. After earning NCAA Player of the Year honors at Duke in 2014, Boutier was afflicted with mild panic attacks in her senior season, making it difficult for her to break 80 at one point, but she overcame it to establish herself as one of Europe’s best players. She’s a captain’s pick.

Anna Nordqvist

Age: 32

Country: Sweden

World ranking: 71

LPGA victories: 8

LET victories: 3

Major championship titles: 2

Solheim Cup record: 11-7-2

The lowdown: Nordqvist has had an uncharacteristically sluggish year, mostly due to a balky putter. She’s still one of the tour’s most consistent ball strikers, with a fairway and greens game that can wear out opponents. She just hasn’t converted enough birdie opportunities this year. Consistently inside or close to the top 10 in the Rolex world rankings most of her career, she has slipped to No. 71. She may have some mojo working in Scotland. She’s engaged to Kevin McAlpine, a former Scottish Amateur champion who now makes his living as a caddie.

Jodi Ewart Shadoff

Age: 31

Country: England

World ranking: 82

LPGA victories: 0

LET victories: 0

Major championship titles: 0

Solheim Cup record: 3-4

The lowdown: Shadoff’s season has been plagued with an ongoing back injury. Still, she rode her strong iron game to four top-10 finishes. She ranks sixth in the LPGA in hitting greens in regulation. Her role is important within that English nucleus to the European team. She helped the Brits make a run at winning the UL International Crown last year. She is one of four captain’s picks.

Anne van Dam

Age: 23

Country: Netherlands

World ranking: 99

LPGA victories: 0

LET victories: 4

Major championship titles: 0

Solheim Cup record: Rookie

The lowdown: The LPGA rookie is the biggest of the big hitters in the women’s tour ranks. Her 284-yard per drive average tops Angel Yin, Lexi Thompson, Brittany Lincicome. It tops everyone. She’s one of those players other tour pros stop to watch on the range. “She hits it like a guy more than any other girl out here,” Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg said. Van Dam has already won four LET titles, one earlier this year.

Caroline Hedwall

Age: 30

Country: Sweden

World ranking: 124

LPGA victories: 0

LET victories: 6

Major championship titles: 0

Solheim Cup record: 8-4-1

The lowdown: The Swede was sensational helping the Euros win the Solheim Cup in a record rout (18-10) in Colorado in 2013, going 5-0. She looked as if she was going to take the LPGA by storm moving over from the LET, but her game hasn’t traveled well.  Still, she won her sixth career LET title late last year. In the last three years playing the LPGA, she has just one top-10 finish.

Suzann Pettersen

Age: 38

Country: Norway

World ranking: 665

LPGA victories: 15

LET victories: 7

Major championship titles: 2

Solhem Cup record: 16-11-6

The lowdown: Nobody in these matches is more proven than the Norwegian. Her 16 Solheim Cup victories are more than anyone else in the event. For so long the heart and soul of the European effort, Pettersen’s back went out in Iowa two years ago, forcing her to withdraw. She tees it up this year a question mark yet again, not because of injury, but because of inactivity. She took last year and most of this year off for the birth of her first child. She has played just three stroke-play events over the last two years, all in the last month. She missed the cut in two of them. Still, Pettersen brings a formidable history as a thorn in the American side. She was the source of much ire in Germany in 2015, when she called out Alison Lee out for taking a putt that wasn’t conceded, which ended up rallying the Americans to an epic comeback.

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