U.S. Handa Cup Captain JoAnne Carner hopes to extend her all-star squad’s 6-0 winning streak this year against a newly recharged World Team, captained by Pia Nilsson. Both Carner and Nilsson are former Solheim Cup captains.
“The World Team has been getting tougher every year and it makes our challenge of defending a little harder,” said Carner, who was a U.S. Solheim Cup player and captained the winning U.S. team in 1994. “The World Team is going to be fired up and after the recent Ryder Cup, they might be fired up a little more than usual.”
Nilsson, captain of the 1998 European Solheim Cup team, will lean heavily on her side’s former Solheim Cup players. Among her Handa Cup rookies will be fellow Swedes Helen Alfredsson and Catrin Nilsmark – both former Solheim Cup players and past Solheim Cup captains.
“I feel very good about the World Team and it keeps getting stronger each year,” said Nilsson, returning this year to captain the international side. “It has been tricky with schedule conflicts with other tours, but we have two strong Handa Cup rookies in Helen and Catrin.”
This year’s World Team is comprised of: Helen Alfredsson of Sweden; Dawn Coe-Jones of Canada; Jane Crafter of Australia; Alicia Dibos of Peru; Lorie Kane of Canada; Jenny Lidback of Peru; Sally Little of South Africa; Liselotte Neumann of Sweden; Alison Nicholas of Great Britain; Catrin Nilsmark of Sweden; Anne-Marie Palli of France; and Jan Stephenson of Australia. Gail Graham of Canada is an alternate for the World Team. Spain’s Marta Figueras-Dotti will serve as the team’s vice captain.
The U.S. Team is comprised of: Pat Bradley of Massachusetts, Beth Daniel of Florida, Cindy Figg-Currier of Texas, Christa Johnson of Arizona, Rosie Jones of Georgia, Betsy King of Arizona, Nancy Lopez of Georgia, Cindy Rarick of Arizona, Nancy Scranton of Florida, Patty Sheehan of Nevada, Sherri Steinhauer of Wisconsin and Sherri Turner of Arizona. Lori West of Colorado is an alternate for the U.S. Team and will serve as assistant captain.
Four members of the World Team both played as team members and served as European Solheim Cup captains. They are: Alfredsson (2007 captain); Neumann (to be 2013 captain); Nicholas (2009, 2011 captain); and Nilsmark (2003 captain).
Seven U.S. Team members have played on and/or captained U.S. Solheim Cup teams. They are: Bradley (2000 captain); Johnson (1998); Rosie Jones (2011 captain); King (2007 captain); Lopez (2005 captain); Scranton (2000); Sheehan (2002 and 2003); and Steinhauer (2011 assistant captain).
“Any time you have had experiences of team play in golf, it’s an advantage,” said Nilsson. “They know and understand team selections, team spirit, playing in alternate shots and best ball.”
Carner added that she will look to her five Hall of Fame members for leadership, including Handa Cup “rookie” Betsy King. But she noted that other players, such as Cindy Figg-Currier and Cindy Rarick, will add other essential elements to an already strong squad.
“I lost a lot of $100 bills to Rarick on the putting green over the years and Cindy Figg-Currier’s enthusiasm will inspire the team,” said Carner. “Everybody already knows that Rosie Jones is tough as nails.”
Tickets are $10 each day, with kids 17 and under admitted free. All active and retired military personnel are also admitted free with ID.
Advance tickets also may be purchased online by visiting www.thelegendstour.com/tickets . Tickets also may be purchased at the gate during the event.
Tee times start at 9 a.m. each day. Team matches will be held on Saturday, followed by individual matches on Sunday. The format is stroke play within each match. Team matches will consist of best ball on the front nine and modified alternate shot on the back nine.
“The players on both teams are a big part of the history of women’s golf and it’s both fun and meaningful to be around them for a few days,” said Nilsson.
Added Carner of stepping into the captain’s role previously held by fellow Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth: “I have some big shoes to fill, but I’m totally looking forward to this year’s competition.”