A look at some of the numbers for the United States and European teams entering this week’s Solheim Cup in Parker, Colorado:
- Youth and inexperience are the predominant theme. The U.S. has its youngest team ever (age 26 average, younger than the previous 27.42 average low of the 2009 team) and includes four rookies, including 18-year-old Lexi Thompson, the youngest American ever (Paula Creamer was age 19 in 2005). The Europeans have the youngest Solheim Cup player ever (17-year-old Charley Hull, superseding Europe’s previous youngest, 21-year-old Suzann Pettersen, in 2002) and have six Solheim rookies. The Euros’ average age might be a record also if not for the presence of 43-year-old Catriona Matthew, the oldest participant by eight years (Cristie Kerr, 35, is the oldest American).
- If the U.S. team decided to form a basketball team, they would be quite formidable with a front line of 5-11 Jessica Korda, 6-foot Lexi Thompson and 6-foot Michelle Wie. Additionally, their basketball heritage would be boosted by former Duke golfer Brittany Lang and Morgan Pressel, who signed with Duke out of high school but opted to turn pro. The European team can counter with 6-foot Anna Nordqvist.
- The European team is made up of players from eight countries – Spain (Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz and Beatriz Recari), England (Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Charley Hull), Sweden (Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist), France (Karine Icher), Germany (Caroline Masson), Scotland (Catriona Matthew), Norway (Suzann Pettersen) and Italy (Giulia Sergas).
- The U.S. team is dominated by seven Florida residents (Paula Creamer, Jessica Korda, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie) and three Texans (Brittany Lang, Gerina Piller and Angela Stanford). Cristie Kerr (Arizona) and Lizette Salas (California) complete the team.
- This year marks the first time that England’s Laura Davies has not played in the Solheim Cup (12 previous starts). Cristie Kerr of the U.S. and Suzann Pettersen and Catriona Matthew of the Europeans are the veterans this year, making their seventh appearances.
- The U.S. holds an 8-4 lead in the competition, with six of its wins coming as the home team. The last visiting team to win was the U.S. in 2007 in Sweden. The Europeans have never won in the U.S.
- The U.S. has four players ranked in the top 10 in Driving Distance on the LPGA: Lexi Thompson (second), Brittany Lincicome (third), Gerina Piller (fourth) and Jessica Korda (sixth). England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff is the longest European driver, ranking 11th.
Colorado Golf Club in the news again
When the world first saw the Colorado Golf Club, it was green and lush for the May 2010 Senior PGA Championship, won by Tom Lehman. This week, it will play firm and fast with wide fairways and much less rough, the original concept design of architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.
In 2010, Lehman made par on the first playoff hole to defeat Fred Couples and David Frost and captured his first senior major title. Lehman was the lone player to post four consecutive sub-par scores at the windy course. The course record is a 65 by Frost.
The course in the Denver suburb of Parker doesn’t have homes situated around the holes. Approximately 1,100 acres of open space surround the course, which was built in 2006. The course will measure 7,066 yards (it was 7,604 yards for the Senior PGA) and begins with a 625-yard, downhill par 5. There are also consecutive par 5s on the back nine, the 552-yard 15th and 520-yard 16th, both with water hazards. But remember that the course is at altitude, allowing the ball to carry approximately 10 percent farther.
Golf fans should pay attention to the Junior Solheim Cup, scheduled for today and Wednesday at Inverness Golf Club in Denver. The U.S. holds a 3½-2½ lead in the preliminary matches for players age 14-18 that debuted in 2002. Thirteen of this year’s Solheim Cup participants have played in the junior event, including Europe’s Charley Hull who played for current Solheim Cup Captain Lisolette Neumann in the 2011 tie with the U.S. in Ireland. … The 2015 Solheim Cup is scheduled for the Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Heidelberg, Germany. … Denver was the first time in the spotlight eight years ago for a number of Solheim Cup participants. Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lang finished tied for second behind Birdie Kim at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open at Cherry Hills. Karine Icher placed T6 and Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford T10. Michelle Wie, then age 15, shared the 54-hole lead with Paula Creamer, 18, one back entering the final round. Cherry Hills is approximately 30 minutes away from Colorado Golf Club. … Which American university has the most former golfers in the Solheim Cup? Arizona State has three European team members – Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz and Anna Nordqvist.