Catriona Matthew will blood rookies Leona Maguire and Matilda Castren but places her faith in AIG Women’s Open champion Anna Nordqvist to lead the way for Europe in the Solheim Cup.
Nordqvist, just two weeks after her triumph at Carnoustie, will lead out the team with Finland’s Castren against Danielle Kang and Austin Ernst for the USA in the opening foursomes tie at Inverness Golf Club in Ohio.
Maguire and Reid take on the Korda sisters
Maguire, the first Irish player in Solheim Cup, also has an experienced partner in England’s Mel Reid. They will take on the Korda sisters, who were unbeaten in the last edition of the Solheim at Glenagles two years ago.
Matthew has stuck with her own unbeaten pairing from Gleneagles, Georgia Hall and Celina Boutier, for the second foursomes match. Charley Hull is partnered with Emily Kristine Pedersen in the final foursome.
Nordqvist was an obvious choice as the most experienced player in the team now Suzann Pettersen has retired to the backroom.
“With Anna obviously just coming off her victory at the AIG Women’s British Open,” said the European captain. “She’s champing at the bit, she’s super confident, and we wanted her to lead the team out.
“Anna is experienced in the Solheim Cup, I think this is her fifth or sixth. She is one of our leaders within the team. It’s a great honour for her and Matilda to go out first.”
Consistency on the LPGA key for the rookies
— Solheim Cup Team Europe (@SolheimCupEuro) September 3, 2021
Week to week consistency in America is what has convinced Matthew to give early starts to the debutants.
“Matilda has been playing really well this year. She won on the LPGA and LET, knowing she had to do that to be part of the Solheim Cup,” continued the captain. “Leona really just kind of trots out the results every week.
“It’s really been Leona’s play over the last probably year and a half. She’s just a very steady player. Hits a lot of fairways, hits a lot of greens, and makes a lot of birdies; great putter. I think her and Mel’s games kind of complement each other.
“Leona is a fantastic green reader and fantastic putter and Mel has perhaps got that little extra bit of length. I think they’re enjoying playing with each other and their games will complement each other well in the foursomes.”
‘We were ready to go today’
#TeamEurope in Toledo. @Beany25 🇪🇺@emilypedersen96 🇪🇺@georgiahall96 🇪🇺@ANordqvist 🇪🇺@SophiaCPopov 🇪🇺@HullCharley 🇪🇺@carlotagolf 🇪🇺@melreidgolf 🇪🇺@leona_maguire 🇪🇺@msagstrom 🇪🇺@CastrenMatilda 🇪🇺@KoerstzMadsen 🇪🇺@celineboutier 🇪🇺#SolheimCup pic.twitter.com/8EHR9gEZDj
— Solheim Cup Team Europe (@SolheimCupEuro) September 1, 2021
Reuniting Hall and Boutier was “kind of obvious thing to do again after Gleneagles” and the partnership of Hill and Pedersen was one they’d developed during the week.
“For myself and everyone in our side, we were kind of probably ready to go today,” said Matthew. “We were wishing this was Saturday.
“The US have a strong team they’ve got a great team, and obviously on home soil. We’re confident with our team, but we know we’re going to have a real fight on our hands.”