Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Golf-Team Europe picks three rookies in Solheim title defence

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(Reuters) – Captain Catriona Matthew selected a trio of Solheim Cup rookies for Team Europe as they mount their title defence against world number one Nelly Korda and the favourites United States at the biennial tournament at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Newcomers Nanna Madsen of Denmark, who finished fifth on Sunday at the women’s British Open, Ireland’s Leona Maguire and Finland’s Matilda Castren were among Matthew’s six selections.

Maguire and Castren are the first of their respective nations to compete for Europe in the tournament, which kicks off next week.

“I don’t think it has really sunk in yet, but it brings tears of joy into my eyes just thinking about it,” said Castren, who had her first LPGA tour win at the Mediheal Championship in June.

Matthew also selected Solheim veterans Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden, who finished tied for second at the women’s British Open, Celine Boutier of France and Britain’s Mel Reid.

The U.S. have won 10 of the 16 editions of the tournament and are favourites with Korda anchoring the Americans, but Matthew said last week she had no concerns accepting the “underdogs” tag ahead of the tournament.

Joining Team Europe through automatic qualifying were Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, who secured her third major triumph by one shot at Carnoustie on Sunday, German Sophia Popov, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark and England’s Charley Hull and Georgia Hall.

For the United States, captain Pat Hurst selected Brittany Altomare, who competed in the 2019 Solheim Cup, 20-year-old Yealimi Noh and Mina Harigae, who finished tied for second at last month’s Marathon LPGA Classic, to join the team’s nine automatic qualifiers.

Tokyo gold medallist Korda, sister Jessica Korda, five-time tour winner Danielle Kang, Ally Ewing, Austin Ernst, 11-time winner Lexi Thompson, Megan Khang, Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas, who finished tied for second in the women’s British Open, will all compete for the U.S.

“Brittany proved that she’s the ultimate team player in 2019,” said Hurst. “Mina and Yealimi have played so well over the last two years, and just because they’re Solheim Cup rookies on paper doesn’t mean they’re rookies inside the ropes.

“I have no doubt they’ll be great competitors at Inverness.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; editing by Richard Pullin)

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