We have already had the Women’s Ashes in cricket and the Women’s football World Cup this summer. Now it is time for women’s golf to take the spotlight as it is time for the Solheim Cup. The 12 best players from Europe and the United States will battle it out over three days of intense matchplay in the biggest event in the women’s game. Every point will be vital and everything will be on the line as the two sides bid to get their hands on the cup.
With the Ryder Cup taking place the week after, this really is a feast for golf fans as we can enjoy the cut and thrust of matchplay golf as a break from the regular diet of 72-hole strokeplay tournaments. For those of us new to the game or unfamiliar with the Solheim Cup, we at AMERICAN GOLF want to help. That’s why we have produced this guide with a potted history, the format and the players to watch out for in this fantastic event to get everyone up to speed.
History of the Solheim Cup:
Compared to the men’s Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup is a relatively new phenomenon. This year’s match will only be the 18th staging of the event whereas the Ryder Cup the week after takes place for the 44th time.
The Solheim Cup takes its name from Norwegian engineer Karsten Solheim. He worked for General Electric before he began playing golf at the age of 42. Solheim caught the golf bug but he also brought his enquiring, engineering mind. Solheim came up with revolutionary ideas about club making as he established the equipment company that we all know today, PING.
In the 1980s, the merging of Great Britain and Ireland to become a European team in the men’s Ryder Cup had a transformative effect on that match into becoming arguably the biggest event in golf. Seeing that made Solheim and his wife, Louise, believe that something similar was needed for women’s golf and so the Solheim Cup was created.
The stage was set for Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida to host the first match in November 1990. There were only eight players on each team and there was no television coverage of the event. There were four foursomes matches on day one and four fourballs on the second before eight singles were played on the final day. The USA were resounding 11.5-4.5 winners, but the event was a success. The players were desperate to wear team colours and the fans who attended were enthusiastic and patriotic, in a good way. The format for a biennial golfing contest between female golfers from Europe and America had been established.
The teams were increased to 10 players per side for the first match on European soil at Dalmahoy in Scotland in 1992 before it was raised to 12 players per side in 1996, which is still in place today.
It is very unusual for both the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup to be staged in the same year, let alone in back-to-back weeks. They were staged in the same month in September 2002 after the Ryder Cup was postponed for a year in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks. The clash this time is caused by the Ryder Cup being pushed back by COVID in 2020. As a result, the Solheim Cup is moving forward to take place in even years. The next match will be held next year from 13-15 September at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia.
Solheim Cup Format:
The format of the Solheim Cup is exactly the same as the Ryder Cup with 28 match play games spread across three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Friday: Morning: 4 Foursomes (07:10 BST, 07:22, 07:34, 07:46)
Afternoon: 4 Fourballs (12:40 BST, 12:55, 13:10, 13:25)
Saturday: Morning: 4 Foursomes (07:10 BST, 07:22, 07:34, 07:46)
Afternoon: 4 Fourballs (12:40 BST, 12:55, 13:10, 13:25)
Sunday: 12 Singles (10:10 BST, with matches at 12-minute intervals until the final game tees off at 12:22 BST)
For the first two days of the Solheim Cup, eight players from each team feature in every session and four players sit out. The captain is free to pick whichever combination of players she wants. For example, England’s Charley Hull could have the same partner for all four rounds of foursomes and fourball games, or she could have four different ones. There are no limits. On Sunday, all 12 players from each team play in the singles. It is the only guaranteed match for players all week.
The magic number is 14.5 points. Reaching that figure wins the Solheim Cup.
However, as current holders of the trophy, Europe will retain the Solheim Cup if the match finishes in a 14-14 draw. That is yet to happen in the history of the Solheim Cup.
Where is the Solheim Cup 2023:
The Solheim Cup is taking place at Finca Cortesin Golf Club on the outskirts of Marbella in the south of Spain. It is the first time that the Solheim Cup has been played in Spain – which is the sixth European country to host the event. Remarkably, the Solheim Cup has never been staged in England.
The crowds may not be on quite the same scale as for the Ryder Cup, but they will certainly provide lots of atmosphere. The blue and yellow flags of Europe and the stars and stripes of America will be common sights all week on the fairways and in the stands.
It’s also common to see players with faces or nails painted in the colours of their respective teams – another feature of Solheim Cup week!
Previous Solheim Cup winners:
The USA leads the series 10-7. However, Europe is aiming for a third straight victory for the first time. The Americans have achieved that feat twice (1994, 1996, 1998) and (2005, 2007, 2009).
1990 (Lake Nona, Florida): USA 11.5-4.5
1992 (Dalmahoy, Scotland): Europe 11.5-6.5
1994 (The Greenbrier, Virginia): USA 13-7
1996 (St Pierre, Wales): USA 17-11
1998 (Muirfield Village, Ohio): USA 16-12
2000 (Loch Lomond, Scotland): Europe 14.5-11.5
2002 (Interlachen, Minnesota): USA 15.5-12.5
2003 (Barseback, Sweden): Europe 17.5-10.5
2005 (Crooked Stick, Indiana): USA 15.5-12.5
2007 (Halmstad, Sweden): USA 16-12
2009 (Rich Harvest Farm, Illinois): USA 16-12
2011 (Killeen Castle, Ireland): Europe 15-13
2013 (Colorado Golf Club, Colorado): Europe 17.5-10.5
2015 (Golf Club St-Leon Rot, Germany): USA 14.5-13.5
2017 (Des Moines, Iowa): USA 16.5-11.5
2019 (Gleneagles, Scotland): Europe 14.5-13.5
2021 (Inverness, Ohio): Europe 15-13
Captain: Suzann Pettersen – Pettersen provided the most iconic moment in Solheim Cup history in 2019. She holed the winning putt on the 18th green in the final match on the Sunday afternoon to win the Solheim Cup back for Europe. It was only her third event back after giving birth to her son and it would be her last ever tournament before retiring. A veteran of nine matches as a player, Pettersen is now the captain of the European team, trying to lead them to an unprecedented third victory in a row.
Eight players qualified automatically, two from a Ladies European Tour list and six through world rankings - with the remaining four players (wildcards) chosen by the captain.
Celine Boutier (France): The leading European in the world rankings following her victory in France in the Evian Championship – one of the five women’s Majors – in July.
Maja Stark (Sweden, rookie): Six wins since the previous Solheim Cup made her a shoo-in for this European team.
Linn Grant (Sweden, rookie): Won the Scandinavian Mixed in 2022 by nine shots, a tournament for men and women on the DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour, a sign of her ability.
Charley Hull (England): Still only 27, this is a sixth Solheim Cup for Hull. The heartbeat of the European team, matchplay golf suits her energetic personality.
Carlota Ciganda (Spain): Playing on home soil, she is sure to have the crowds pulling for her.
Georgia Hall (England): Brilliantly won the British Open in 2018 at Royal Lytham and played a key ole in Europe’s last two Solheim Cup successes.
Anna Nordqvist (Sweden): Nordqvist was named as one of Pettersen’s assistant captains for this match, before she played her way on to the team.
Leona Maguire (Ireland): The stand-out player in Europe’s win in America two years ago and now a proven winner on Tour.
Caroline Hedwall (Sweden): The Swede is the only player to win five points out of five in a single Solheim Cup as she did in 2013.
Madelene Sagstrom (Sweden): Claimed a vital point in the Sunday singles as Europe won in America two years ago, something not lost on captain Pettersen.
Gemma Dryburgh (Scotland, rookie): Chosen as a wildcard by Pettersen after a maiden LPGA win in Japan last November and solid form in 2023.
Emily Kristine Pedersen (Denmark): Secured the point for outright victory in 2021 Solheim Cup as she completes the Scandinavian flavour to the side.
Captain: Stacy Lewis – A consistent performer for many years on the LPGA Tour and a two-time Major winner. At 38, she is the youngest ever American captain in this match. She played in four Solheim Cups but lost twice as many of her matches as she won. Must halt the European attempt to win three-in-a-row.
Nine players came through a qualification process and world rankings to make the team with three wildcards selected by the captain.
Lilia Vu (rookie): Never played in the Solheim Cup, but she is the form player of 2023 after winning two Majors – the Chevron Championship and the Women’s British Open.
Nelly Korda: Ex-world number one comes from an incredible sporting family. Sister Jessica has played past Solheim Cups, brother Sebastian is a pro tennis player, while parents Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtova were also pro tennis players.
Allisen Corpuz (rookie): Secured the biggest prize in women’s golf and a cheque for $2 million when winning the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach this year.
Megan Khang: Good friends with actress and keen golfer Kathryn Newton, she was consistent through qualification before winning the last counting event.
Jennifer Kupcho: Three wins in 2022 guaranteed her spot. Her husband, Jay, will be in Spain – as caddie for team-mate Allisen Corpuz!
Danielle Kang: A regular in the American team and in the world’s top 20, this is her fourth straight appearance.
Andrea Lee (rookie): Good finishes in the Scottish Open and the Women’s British Open helped her to make the team for the first time.
Lexi Thompson: Thompson has been making headlines since qualifying for the US Women’s Open as a 12-year-old. Now 28, and without an individual title for four years.
Rose Zhang (rookie): The 20-year-old only turned pro in May and promptly won her first event. She is seen as the new star of the women’s game.
Ally Ewing: Selected for this match based on previous experience. But two wins from eight Solheim Cup matches is not quite a ringing endorsement.
Cheyenne Knight (rookie): Impressed captain Stacy Lewis with consistent form at the start of 2023 to earn one of three wildcard spots.
Angel Yin: Played in last winning team in 2017 and the Americans will want to call upon those those good vibes.
Where can you watch the Solheim Cup:
Sky Sports will be on site at Finca Cortesin to broadcast all the action over the three days, live from when the first ball is struck on Friday morning until the final putt is holed on Sunday evening. There will also be highlights available in the evening on BBC.
About the Author
Adam is a freelance news and sports journalist who has written for the BBC, The Sunday Post, The I, The Times, The Telegraph and more. He has been writing about golf for nearly two decades and has covered 13 Open Championships and two Ryder Cups. Not only does Adam cover golf, but he has played golf for as long as he can remember. He was a member at Northenden Golf Club for around 25 years until his children arrived and his last official handicap was 11, although on any given day his form fluctuates anywhere between eight and 18.