SALAS READY FOR FOURTH SOLHEIM CUP
The 2017 Solheim Cup all came down to Lizette Salas, who nailed a 4-foot birdie putt to win the Cup for the United States. The images of Salas wrapped in the American flag and hugging her family are indelibly branded into her memory of that week in Des Moines.
“That moment was pretty special and for it to come to my match and that putt on 18, I embraced it. I was ready for it,” said Salas, whose remarkable personal story is a cornerstone of the LPGA’s #DriveOn campaign. “I knew what I had to do. And I was just really honored to do it for the team. And that's one of the highlights of my career.”
Salas is one of the veteran players on Team USA, with Gleneagles marking her fourth Solheim Cup appearance. She has a 4-4-2 record in her previous three appearances and has been sharing her expertise with her podmates Annie Park and Megan Khang and the four other rookies teeing it up for the Red, White and Blue. But according to Salas, they really don’t need much help.
“Our team's embracing the fact that we have a lot of rookies. I mean, they did something pretty remarkable just to be on the team. So I don't think we need to change anything in terms of how to prepare them golf-wise,” said Salas. “We're just here if they need us. And I think they're doing just fine. I think the fact that there are a lot, they help each other out. And I think we're all just coming together.”
KANG, A MATCH-PLAY WHIZ
The 2017 Solheim Cup opened with Danielle Kang memorably pumping up the crowd on the first tee. “Des Moines was pretty top-notch for me. I had an amazing time. The crowds were incredible,” said Kang, who refused to tee off until the crowds circling the first tee were cheering raucously. “The fact we were on U.S. soil obviously made it better and I heard all the USA chants.”
Fast forward to 2019 and Kang knows that the chants will swing to the European favor. She even joked that she expects to hear boos for her when she takes to the first tee on Friday, quipping “I'm loud whether I'm in Nevada or in Scotland” to much laughter. Boos or cheers, there’s something about match play that clearly agrees with Kang.
“I love match-play golf. The fact that whether it's team game or singles, I like playing against one other person. I like to have a win or a loss instead of playing the entire field,” said Kang, who went 3-1-0 in Des Moines and won two U.S. Women’s Amateurs conducted at match play. “That's my entire idea is that I like to get some kind of feedback. Because golf, we lose most of the time. If you don't win, you're technically a loser. So it's hard to win. But match play you just play one person.”
KHANG, PARK ALREADY THINKING ABOUT FIRST TEE
The grandstand surrounding the first tee at Gleneagles raises high on three sides of the teeing ground and promises to be a daunting experience for even the most veteran Solheim Cup player. So you can’t blame rookies Megan Khang and Annie Park for literally rehearsing their first-tee experience.
“When we did our practice round on Monday, I walked through the little tunnel to get to the first tee and the first thing I thought of was, wow, I can't wait until these crowds are filled. And I turned around and I kind of went ‘Let's go!’” said Khang, raising her arms as if gesturing to the crowds. “Literally practiced it. I can't wait for the crowd. My parents will be sitting up there. So I'm really looking forward to the first tee. Everyone, all the veterans tell us that it's nothing we've ever felt before. So I'm both nervous, excited and, like, I'm really looking forward to it.”
Park echoed the sentiment. “I've been thinking about what song they're going to play and what dance we should do,” she said. “I can't wait. I can't wait for Friday.”
Both players claimed to embrace the blustery conditions on display at Gleneagles. With winds gusting to 25mph and rain in the forecast for the rest of the week, the native Northeasterners claim this is just a regular day.
“We had to practice in this growing up in the wintertime. We're used to the cold, the rain, the snow even,” said Park, who hails from Long Island, while Khang is from Eastern Massachusetts. “I think for us like we're pretty accustomed to it. But it is a challenge for sure, because of the wind, the new golf course. It's Megan's first time in Scotland. It's my second time in Scotland. We're just going to try to have some fun.”