Behind the Scenes with Neal Reid: Solheim Cup 2013 Edition

August 19 2013, Neal Reid

Europe makes history in Colorado

A “Mile-High Miracle” was just not in the cards for Team USA on Sunday.

Colorado Golf Club was packed with fans on the Solheim Cup’s deciding day, and the European group from that contingent was over the moon with excitement after Team Europe claimed a record-setting 18-10 win over the Americans to make history as the only team from “across the pond” to win on U.S. soil.

There was much rejoicing for the Europeans Sunday afternoon and night, as the 2013 squad helped Europe win back-to-back Solheim Cups for the first time in the event’s history.

Not only did Caroline Hedwall win her match against Michelle Wie 1 Up to become the first player in Solheim Cup history to finish 5-0, but she also earned the magical 14th point for Europe. The Europeans needed just 14 points to retain the Cup it won in Ireland in 2011, and Hedwall’s point in the fifth match of the day did just that.

Team USA played admirably and fought hard, but the putts just weren’t dropping for the home team. Colorado Golf Club’s greens can be diabolical, and Europe’s ability to conquer them propelled the team to victory.

“This is fantastic, and I’m so proud of my team right now,” European Captain Liselotte Neumann said. “Our players played great golf, and this is just great for golf in Europe. We just wanted the players to be out there and just focus on their game, and they have been able to do that.  They just played brilliant.”

Catriona Matthew halved her match with Gerina Piller minutes later to earn the half point that technically clinched the victory. The Americans won just two matches all day and halved

Europe used the momentum from a 4-0 afternoon sweep of the Americans on Saturday to win three of the first five matches on Sunday, and the Cup will stay abroad for two more years. The team showed extreme mental toughness, sank a number of clutch putts and hit a plethora of laser-like shots that honed in on flagsticks like radar.

“We really got our butts kicked this week,” U.S. Captain Meg Mallon said in jest at the Closing Ceremony. “My team played their hearts out right until the very end, and I’m so proud of them. Women’s golf won this week. I was just thrilled to be captain of this team.”

Lizette Salas signed autographs after halving her match with Suzann Pettersen, a classy move for the American Solheim Cup rookie. Both teams came to the press tent for post-event press conferences, with the Europeans enjoying the cup while waiting on Team USA to finish.

The first tee was amazing, as always, packed full of fans cheering for both sides who created an atmosphere like nothing else in women’s golf. One of the coolest moments was Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez leading the U.S. fans in singing the national anthem before the matches began.

It really is a spectacle to behold and a stadium-like setup that gets players pumped and the adrenaline flowing. The event added a nice touch by hiring a parachute team to descend from the heavens and kick off the morning’s matches with a bang, and this is what they were all playing for.

Earlier in the day, Golf World’s Ron Sirak and former European Solheim Cup Team member and Women’s British Open champion Karen Stupples appeared on the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show to discuss the singles matches. Stupples, an LPGA Board member made some sense by suggesting that players should pick up their opponents’ markers or balls on the green if they are going to concede a putt, and I agree.

Whit Watson was there broadcasting live from the Colorado Golf Club driving range as well. Not to be outdone, LPGA Communications staffers Mike Scanlan and Kelly Thesier taped a segment for LPGA.com where they broke down the day’s singles matchups.

A weather delay was one of the few occurrences we hadn’t had this week, but that changed at 5:20 p.m. MT, when lightning strikes close to the course from a fast-moving weather cell halted play while Lizette Salas was a millisecond away from putting to win the 15th hole. Officials blew the horn to resume play nearly an hour later at 6:16 with a slight rain still dropping.

Attendance for the week was announced at roughly 110,000, right on target with what was expected and very similar to the numbers from the 2009 event at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago. It was great to see so many people descend upon Colorado Golf Club during the six days of event week.

It was a crazy, long, exhilarating, exiting, maddening and flat-out amazing week, and I was happy to be a part of it. I’ll have a lot of memories from this event to take with me forever, and it was great to see it grow into the monumental success it was.

For me, now it’s back to the life of a full-time freelance writer, and that’s just fine. I’ll have plenty to keep me busy, and I will definitely do all I can to cover as much golf as possible.

After all, the next Solheim Cup is only two short years away in Germany.

Until next time….

 

A day that had it all

If fans watching the Solheim Cup were hoping for the drama to build Saturday, they got their wish, and then some.

The play was superb all day, the galleries were massive and weather hot again as Team USA and Team Europe locked horns for eight more matches. The Americans earned 2½ points in the extremely tight morning Foursomes matches to cut Europe’s lead to 6½ to 5½, but the visiting team charged back in the afternoon to give their fans and inner circle something to cheer about.

With clutch putts and a slew of birdies, the Europeans charged to a 4-0 sweep in the afternoon Four-Ball matches and lead the U.S. 10½ to 5½ heading into Sunday’s singles. This represents the largest deficit Team USA has faced since 2000 (9½ to 4½), but the Americans have customarily been dominant in singles through the years. Also, the teams that have won Saturday’s afternoon matches outright in past Solheim Cups are 0-4.

Regardless, the Americans are going to need to pull out all the stops on Sunday to remain undefeated on home soil.

In one of the most dramatic Solheim Cup moments ever, Norway’s Anna Nordqvist holed out on the par-3 17th with a 7-iron for the first ace in the competition’s history. The Europeans were leading the Foursomes match 1 Up at the time, so the eagle ended Nordqvist’s and Caroline Hedwall’s match against Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda (photo) by a 2&1 score.

“It was amazing,” said Nordqvist, who improved to 6-5-0 all-time in Solheim Cup play. “Obviously, it was a great shot and just to see it really go in, I mean, there’s no words for it. I can’t wait to watch the reruns to actually see more, how we were cheering on the tee. I couldn’t ask for any better at that point.”

France’s Karine Icher rolled in a long birdie putt from off the 18th green to help her and Beatriz Recari defeat Cristie Kerr and Pressel 1 Up. It was a big moment for a match that could have ended in a halved point, and the Europeans conceded the Americans’ birdie putt, which was a classy move.

On the 16th hole of that match, Kerr hit her drive into the creek that splits the fairway, resulting in another lengthy ruling, but the Americans still won the hole. It was definitely the most talked-about match of the day.

U.S. Captain Meg Mallon (photo) was shocked to see the afternoon matches end the way they did.

“For us, it was one of those days that putts didn't drop,” she said. “We had matches in that turn of events at 15, 16 and 17 that could have gone our way and didn't. It's literally shocking to see us lose all four matches in the afternoon.”

For European Captain Liselotte Neumann (photo), the afternoon was a dream, but she is not taking anything for granted.

“It was just a wonderful afternoon to walk away with those four points,” she said. “We could only have dreamt about that. I'm just extremely happy and just extremely proud of how they all handled them self and how good they played.

“I think now is the time to just really sit down and for everybody just to really look at their own match. Everybody's got to go out and try to win their point tomorrow and not spend a whole lot of time looking at that board and thinking that their teammate will get the point. They need to go out and just focus on their game tomorrow and keep doing what they have been doing, just hitting the fairways and greens and just putting some pressure on the U.S. Team.”

We had another extremely busy day in the press tent, with non-stop activity, drama unfolding before us and even a medical emergency. Big props should go out to the Solheim Cup’s medical staff of paramedics and mobile response team, who did a great job for us.

The pairings for the 12 Sunday singles matches are quite interesting, as always. Nordqvist and Stacy Lewis lead things off at 12:40 p.m. MT, followed by rookie Charley Hull and Paula Creamer. Europe’s Caroline Hedwall is 4-0 so far this week and has the chance to become the first player in Solheim Cup history to go 5-0, but she’ll have to defeat Michelle Wie (2-1 in 2013).

Scotland’s Catriona Matthew (photo) is looking for her sixth career singles point Sunday, which would tie her with Laura Davies for second all-time, and she has been paired up against American rookie Gerina Piller in the sixth singles match of the day. Both players have a chance to earn their first victories of the event.

The matches will be quality, but one of the most intriguing pairings includes Suzann Pettersen (photo) against Lizette Salas. Salas will be looking for revenge against the Norwegian, who defeated her on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf this April in Hawaii.

Icher and Kerr will close out the competition by squaring off in the 12th pairing at 2:30, and they could be playing for all the marbles.

Twitter was entertaining as always on Saturday, and this photo of the sun creeping skyward before 6 a.m. shows just how pretty Colorado can be. Here is another example of Colorado Golf Club’s natural beauty, while this shot captured some of the area’s wildlife that had come out to check out the golf.

Here is a nice photo of Sky Sports’ Sarah Stirk, Davies and Christina Kim, who have been working hard all week to bring the event to the United Kingdom and Ireland on television.

European Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam was once again giving players some pointers on the range before play started, and who wouldn’t listen to the Hall of Famer? Sorenstam could also have a career in photography if she so desired.

Saturday was U.S. Assistant Captain Dottie Pepper’s birthday, so I’d like to send out a belated Happy Birthday wish to her. Here’s another great shot of the tunnel leading to the first tee, and if walking through it as fans cheer madly is not enough to pump up a player, I don’t know what is.

After working for more than two years to help plan and promote the Solheim Cup, it all comes to a close on Sunday for me, at least in an immediate sense. I will still field media requests and do some wrap-up work for a while, but the fourth Solheim Cup of my career will soon be a thing of the past, which is sad.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the LPGA’s Communications staff during that time and side-by-side this week, and it has been great. Most of the department is pictured here with the Cup, with (left to right) Mike Scanlan, Katie Ann Robinson, Kelly Thesier and Kraig Kann doing a stand-up job to make the event a success. We had a great communications crew during my time at the LPGA, and this one is top-notch as well.

Now, it’s time for a quick meal that will no doubt spur me to think about how many times I’ll be going to the gym in the coming weeks, as well as some quality shuteye before the culminating day.

Until next time….

 

A wild and wacky start to play

Just when I didn’t think the days could get any longer, they did.

It was a crazy, exciting and action-packed day as the 13th staging of the Solheim Cup kicked off Friday at Colorado Golf Club. Play will begin Saturday with Team Europe holding a 5-3 lead over the American squad, and there were many thrills and spills as the teams got there.

There was fire burning bright at the clubhouse in the morning before the sun came up and plenty of it on the course after play began.

Anna Nordqvist got things started with this tee shot, and she and Caroline Hedwall went on to a 4 & 2 win over Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas to give the Europeans the event’s first point. Suzann Pettersen and Beatriz Recari followed with a 2 & 1 victory over Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford before Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda’s 3 & 2 triumph against Catriona Matthew and Jodi Ewart-Shadoff got the Americans on the board.

Team Europe led 3-1 after rookies Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher defeated the veteran team of Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer (photo). Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang cut the lead to 3-2 with a 4 & 3 win, but Pettersen and Carlota Ciganda won 1 Up against Lewis and Lexi Thompson in a match marred by controversy.

Ciganda was given an incorrect ruling on the 15th hole after a 25-minute delay to determine where her shot into a lateral water hazard. She managed to halve the hole after the ruling, and the Europeans went on to take the match.

The teams split the remaining two matches on the course – including a 2 & 1 win by Kerr and Michelle Wie (photo) – leading to the 5-3 European advantage. An explanation of the immensely complicated situation was given to media by part of the Solheim Cup rules team, but I’m not even going to attempt to get into the nuances of Rule 26-1 C and nothing will be changed on the scoreboard.

Suffice it to say, the controversy led to a lengthy discussion between both teams’ captains and rules officials, delaying the post-play press conferences by roughly an hour. The media was swimming in activity, with reporters scrambling to grasp the depth of the situation and determine how to explain it to their readers, viewers and listeners.

The golf was great on Friday, and Saturday should be a heck of a moving opportunity for both teams. Fans of all kinds and dressed in a variety of garb, outfits and costumes packed Colorado Golf Club on Friday, and the first tee was a madhouse of team pride and fan excitement. Players get to walk down this awesome tunnel on their way to the tee box, which reminds me of some of the best college football entrances.

European Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam was busy taking pictures and Tweeting during the day and former soccer star Julie Foudy was on-site watching the action. It was a full day for everyone.

There was also a touching display honoring late LPGA rules official Doug Brecht, who passed away late last year, and the back page of the official Solheim Cup media guide is also dedicated to him. I know he’s looking down on us all and is happy to see the event off to such a rousing start.

Until next time….

A grand opening seen by all

There’s little doubt that the Opening Ceremony was the highlight of Thursday’s action at the 2013 Solheim Cup, and it was quite the show.

Broadcast live to 80 million homes on the Golf Channel, the Opening Ceremony was electric, with fans chanting, roaring and dancing to piped-in music, inspiring speeches and national pride on display by the droves. Both teams were dressed in classy attire, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (Meg Mallon loves his last name) spoke graciously and each captain was eloquent in their remarks to an impressive crowd that numbered in the thousands.

The aerial shots provided by Golf Channel were superb, and while I was unable to actually sit in on the ceremony (I held down the fort in the press tent), I could still feel the passion by simply taking a step outside, closing my eyes and listening. LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann was a fluid and spot-on emcee, and it was clear that Colorado Golf Club is in store for a whale of an event Friday through Sunday.

Here is another photo from the extravaganza, another one here and a true behind-the-scenes look from just outside the press tent. This is what it looked like before the crowds filed in, and here’s a video of it all.

Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be a roller-coaster ride!

We finished our pre-event press conferences on Thursday, with LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Famer Kathy Whitworth and her U.S. PING Junior Solheim Cup Team also speaking to the media about their victory from Wednesday at Inverness Golf Club in Englewood. Kathy is a gem of a person, and you could tell that each of the young players – from both teams – were hanging on her every word due to immense respect for the living legend.

Players were back on the course for one final practice round, and Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson took things up a notch from Wie’s patriotic socks from Wednesday. Mallon and European Captain Liselotte Neumann spoke to media about their Foursomes pairings for Friday morning before the Opening Ceremony, and that quartet of matches should set a great tone for the rest of the weekend.

My initial thoughts?

The first match, pitting Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall against Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas, will be fantastic, with the rookie Salas being tested and thrown into the mix very early. Suzann Pettersen and two-time 2013 LPGA tournament winner Beatriz Recari will be a really tough match for Texans Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford, while Solheim veterans Catriona Matthew from Europe and Morgan Pressel from the U.S. will be calming influences for rookies (and good friends) Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and Jessica Korda in a match that’s extremely difficult to call.

In the final morning match, Spain’s Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher will have their hands full with the dangerous veteran tandem of Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer. I’m not going to predict a score from those four, but suffice it to say that things will be close heading into the afternoon Four-Ball matches.

Crowds were big as fans for both sides and of all ages were out in full effect on Thursday, so this weekend should be a sea of people at CGC. If this event doesn’t get you charged up about golf, I don’t know what will.

“Twitter Theater” action was strong on Thursday, with players and captains Tweeting to their hearts’ content. The European Assistant Captains Annika Sorenstam and Carin Koch made a huge early morning Starbucks run, showing just how dedicated they are to the team, and Neumann’s likeness kept popping up in the strangest places.

More photos from Wednesday night’s Gala Dinner surfaced on Thursday, including one of Wie petting a snake and Thompson and Korda rubbing shoulders with legend Nancy Lopez. Here’s a look at what Team USA will be wearing Friday morning and a cool shot of Brittany Lincicome.

In honor of the 2015 Solheim Cup being awarded to Germany, a considerable German contingent of media and golf executives hosted a media mixer in the press tent to close the evening Thursday night, and it was a blast. If I have anything to do with it, I will be there in one capacity or another, as I have heard rave reviews about the country.

They served authentic German food, German beer and spirits, had German music playing and even people dressed in traditional German garb to add effect to the event. It was truly a great time for all.

Now, it’s time to leave the press tent for a few hours before I have to be back to help local television with their live spots before the sun comes up.

It’s here! The 2013 Solheim Cup is here!

Until next time….

 

A crowded house at CGC

Wednesday was a blitzkrieg of a day at Colorado Golf Club as the 2013 Solheim Cup edged one more day closer to beginning.

Players were out on the course again for more practice rounds and preparation, with most of them playing just nine holes on the picture-perfect day. They will be back at it again Thursday morning, and the evening will conclude with the Opening Ceremony (photo) live on the Golf Channel at 5 p.m. MT that fans won’t want to miss.

My domain – or dungeon, if you want to be dramatic – for the week is the press tent, and it was a beehive of activity. Even more media checked in than yesterday, and the interview room saw both captains and 12 players filter their way through to be “grilled” by journalists of all types from around the world.

We have roughly 60 international media on the credential list, and it’s always nice to have them in the States for a Solheim Cup. They are routinely polite, engaging and personable, and they appreciate everything you do for them as a public relations staffer.

U.S. Captain Meg Mallon and European Captain Liselotte Neumann stayed for lengthy press conferences and informal chats with media members, and it was nice to see how excited they are for the event. One of the highlights of the day’s player press conferences was Michelle Wie (and her scintillating socks) telling the story about learning she’d been picked by Mallon to be one of the team’s two Captain’s picks.

She said she cried so hard that her contact lenses popped out when Mallon asked her if she wanted to play for Team USA, and that’s great to see. Some consider her a controversial pick, but Mallon has ultimate confidence in Wie, who is 4-3-1 in her two previous appearances.

Our Internet issues persisted Wednesday, so I called in the cavalry to re-organize everything in the afternoon. Hopefully, the issue is resolved for good and this is the last time I will have to write about it.

I had a great surprise today when I poked my head into Paul Boehmer’s club repair trailer on the driving range, as Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez – one of my favorite people in the world – was in there getting her clubs re-gripped. The former Solheim Cup captain and I chatted for a while, catching up and sharing news from my alma-mater Auburn, where she has sent two of her daughters.

I was Nancy’s contact in the LPGA Communications Department for media requests while I worked for the Tour, and it was a great experience. We bonded a lot during her farewell tour season, and I was the one who introduced her to the world live on ESPN News when she made her official retirement announcement in Phoenix.

People have asked me if she is really as genuine and sweet in person as she appears on TV and has been billed by media and others, and the answer is absolutely. You won’t find a better athlete, ambassador or person than Ms. Lopez.

We hosted a media appreciation barbecue in Cottage No. 3 behind the driving range Wednesday night, and it was nice to see the media members relaxing and enjoying each other’s company and some great food. A closest-to-the-pin contest followed on the far end of the range, and some people were even able to hit the green from 63 yards away!

I wish I could say I stuck a 56-degree PING wedge close, but alas, I instead hit a 160-yard skulled line drive that may be submerged on the CGC driving range as you read this. Not my best effort, to say the least!

As always, players were busy bees on Twitter on Wednesday. Brittany Lincicome was decked out in red, white and blue, including a sweet pair of cowboy boots, while Stacy Lewis was up early for a TV interview. European Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam drew a crowd while signing autographs and meeting with fans in the merchandise tent, some European players were having fun with a likeness of Neumann and European rookie Jodi Ewart-Shadoff posed for a picture with her good friend Jessica Korda.

Actor and former LPGA tournament host Jamie Farr was at CGC Wednesday, and he and Sorenstam were able to connect, which made them both happy. Former Olympic swimming gold medalist Summer Sanders was in town to do a TV piece for ESPNW, and U.S. players are having a ball mixing and matching patriotic shoes this week.

Lexi Thompson found some kiddie fans, Gerina Piller made her way through another big crowd while signing autographs, and players got all decked out and dolled up for the official Gala Dinner. Mallon found herself among some lanky ladies, while Neumann’s presence at the course earlier in the day kept growing and growing.

One final note is that the U.S. Team won the PING Junior Solheim Cup at Inverness Golf Club in nearby Englewood (photo) by a score of 14½ to 9½ after both teams entered singles play knotted at 6-6. Some of those victorious players, along with Captain Kathy Whitworth, will be in the interview room at CGC Thursday afternoon, so stay tuned to LPGA.com to see what they say.

Another long, but great, day is over, and tomorrow will be more of the same.

Until next time….

 

Where’s my fire extinguisher?

As I exhale and rest my exhausted “dogs,” I have to really think hard about the events of the day to put them back in sequence or pick out any highlights.

Another whirlwind day at beautiful Colorado Golf Club has come and gone, and we’re one day closer to Friday’s opening day of the 2013 Solheim Cup. I’m going to jinx us, but it did NOT rain at the club today, so players were able to complete their morning practice rounds and hit some balls on the range before this afternoon’s official photo call.

The European Team teed off in three groups of four off the 10th tee beginning at 8 a.m. local time, and the U.S. Team followed with a trio of foursomes of its own off No. 1 at 8:30 a.m. There was a crowd three or four people deep on the driving range this morning to catch a glimpse of the players getting ready, and a pretty impressive group of spectators meandered around the 7,066-yard course to watch the players in their practice groups, and the weather definitely cooperated.

Media check-in was busy, with a number of journalists and radio and TV reporters from around the country and the world gracing us with their presences for the first time this week. This process will continue again tomorrow, and I once again have to give props to our media volunteers, who are rock stars.

We began our slew of press conferences for the week this afternoon, with Europe’s Azahara Munoz, Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson talking to a standing-room only crowd of media and support staff that included a group of a dozen media members visiting from Germany, the site of the 2015 Solheim Cup. They were followed by Americans in two-player sets: Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas (photo), Angela Stanford and Gerina Piller and Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel.

It was near the end of the press conferences when it was brought to my attention that our wireless Internet service was slow and possibly out altogether. This would be my major fire to put out today.

After some frantic phone calls, testing of the servers and exploration of the press tent, I discovered that one of our three main servers was “off the grid” as a selection for media to use. This shifted all traffic to two servers, which bogged down the Internet connections and left some media a wee bit perturbed.

But, after an exploratory search to find the disabled server that nearly required spelunking equipment and phone calls to the right technicians, we put a plan in place to remedy the situation. Long story short, we moved the server location to a much safer locale, and we are up and running at 100 percent again.

This afternoon’s photo call (photo) was as it always is: a symphony of cat herding of staff, VIPs, players, caddies and everyone else who garnered a spot on the risers. It was a good chance to mill around and chat with some of my former LPGA colleagues like rules officials Sue Witters, Janet Lindsay and Marty Robinson, marketing guru Cathy Levering, Internet maven Jennifer Meyer and numbers wizard Kathy Milthorpe.

I also caught up with some of the caddies I’d known well during my Tour tenure, including Colin Cann (Paula Creamer), Worth Blackwelder (Cristie Kerr), Greg Johnston (Lexi Thompson) and John Killeen (Salas), which was fun. It was also good to see LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, whom I met earlier in the year when he was here for our media blitz tour, and he’s just as excited as everyone else about this week.

Wednesday will be a big day, as dozens more media will arrive to check in and be here for the array of press conferences we will have in the interview room. U.S. Captain Meg Mallon will lead things off at 9:15 a.m. and will be followed by European Team Captain Liselotte Neumann at 10:30. With the exception of Europe’s Suzann Pettersen, Carlota Ciganda and Charley Hull – who will visit the interview room Thursday afternoon – a dozen Solheim Cup players will participated in “pressers” on Wednesday, so it will be a full day.

Be sure to check out LPGA.com and the site’s Solheim Cup Social Hub for all of the news coming out of the day’s events.

To wrap things up for the day, here’s a brief installment of “Twitter Theater” from Tuesday. On Monday, the European Team sent the European PING Junior Solheim Cup Team this good-luck card for the two-day event that began Tuesday (it’s tied 6-6), which was a nice gesture, while members of Team USA were hamming it up in the team room. Here’s a look at the talented juniors.

U.S. Assistant Captain Dottie Pepper is providing former Solheim Cup star Brandie Burton with this helmet to help her with cart-driving duties this week, here’s a cool shot from European Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam of the team bus, and Pepper took one of the Americans’ bus. The Europeans are sporting these bags this week, and this is quite a group of former American Solheim stars (from left to right, Beth Daniel, Mallon, Burton and Pepper).

Want a cool look at the U.S. Team room? Here you go, courtesy of LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann. Sorenstam gave Beatriz Recari a bunker lesson and Pettersen some pointers, and this year’s event will include groups of Texans and Spaniards, among others. Here’s the first photo I’ve seen of Europe’s trio of Swedish captains, and the PGA Tour’s Sergio Garcia gave the Europeans a good-luck message at Tuesday night’s dinner.

Speaking of dinner, it’s time for a late one for me.

Until next time….

 

Things going ‘swimmingly’ in Colorado

Well, folks, we’re off and running here at soggy Colorado Golf Club!

Mother Nature decided to follow Sunday afternoon’s shower with a torrential downpour early Monday afternoon, and the press tent got a bit soggy. Workers quickly reinforced our massive lightning rod of a tent after the heavens opened, but we did have some seepage into the work area. The scoreboard looks pretty awesome, so media will be well-informed all weekend. 

Hopefully, the wet stuff is all behind us and we will be good to go the rest of the week, but the rain did end players’ practice rounds a bit early today. The course will be playing long and soft tomorrow for practice and practice rounds, so players will be able to go pin hunting if they aren’t hitting long irons into the tricky greens.

Most of the day in the press tent today was a blur, as there were plenty of fires to put out and organization to implement. Our press tent volunteers were great, and we will be in good hands the rest of the week thanks to those dedicated people.

“Tent city” is complete here at the club, and when fans begin coming to check things out on Tuesday, this merchandise tent will be up and running. Various crews spent the day putting the finishing touches on numerous aspects of the setup process, which is both highly complex and difficult, and this shot from behind the first tee will give you an idea of the structures that can be found throughout the property.

Tuesday afternoon, we begin with the first set of press conferences in the press tent, and credentialed media will be able to interview Team USA’s Stacy Lewis, Lizette Salas and Morgan Pressel at 1:15 p.m. MT, Team Europe’s Azahara Munoz, Caroline Hedwall and Caroline Masson at 1:30 and the American trio of Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome and Gerina Piller at 1:45.

Tuesday also means the PING Junior Solheim Cup gets started at Inverness Golf Club in nearby Englewood, and it will be exciting to see how the young players handle match-play competition. Here’s a photo of the European juniors signing autographs taken by team captain Janice Moodie, who will lead her team against Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth (photo). Here’s a photo from the Opening Ceremony on Monday. 

Salas will be ready thanks in part to these customized ball markers, Lexi Thompson got in another practice session on Saturday before getting ready to travel west and former European participant Sophie Gustafson – who will be on-site as a journalist this week – was already in good form for the event.

Lincicome enjoyed some Florida scenery on Sunday before heading to Colorado for the week, some American fans were sporting their support gear and U.S. Assistant Captain Dottie Pepper had her dog, J.P., looking good as well. Beatriz Recari took this shot of some of her European teammates after they landed Sunday and this one of her stylish golf bag, while Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist found this cool European seal in honor of the event.

Monday was a travel day for most Solheim Cup players, and they will be in action on Tuesday as preparations for Friday’s first day of competition begins. Michelle Wie was pleasantly surprised by this nice touch in her hotel room in Denver, as were Jessica Korda (photo) and Thompson (photo).

Korda played Cherry Hills Country Club – site of the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open and 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship – on Monday before her CGC practice rounds begin Tuesday, and Europe’s Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and Nordqvist got their competitive juices flowing with some hoops in the team room at CGC.

Suzann Pettersen found this great photo of European Assistant Captain Annika Sorenstam on the locker next to hers, while Wie and Korda tested out the walkway to the first tee. Cristie Kerr will have a patriotic towel for her caddie to keep her clubs clean with, and the Americans have a unique mascot in their team room at the club.

U.S. Captain Meg Mallon has some nice wheels for the week, and Team USA will not be short on inspiration thanks to a number of LPGA/USGA Girls Golf programs from around the country. 

On another note, hearty congratulations are in order for my fellow Auburn Tiger Jason Dufner, who became a major champion on Sunday by capturing the PGA Championship title at Oak Hill. What a great win, one I watched from the press tent here at CGC, and I hope it means many more for him.

On Monday, Paula Creamer re-Tweeted this shot of herself “Dufnering” in honor of his win, and I was tempted to have my own Dufnering photo taken as well, but didn’t. I may be in that position by the end of the week due to exhaustion, but it will be a good kind of tired.

Until next time….

Neal Reid is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs, Colo., who has written for USA Today, The Associated Press, ESPN.com, ESPNW.com, Newsday, the Colorado Springs Gazette, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oakland Tribune, Marin (Calif.) Independent-Journal and numerous regional and national magazines. He was an LPGA media relations coordinator from 1998-2004 and is serving as PR Manager for this year's Solheim Cup. Follow him on Twitter @NealReid21


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Topics: Social Scene, Solheim Cup

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