Suzann Pettersen will captain the European Solheim Cup team when the matches travel to Spain in 2023. A veteran of nine Solheim Cup teams and a two-time assistant captain, Pettersen sat down with LPGA.com for a Q&A on the upcoming matches.
LPGA.com: When did you know that being Solheim Cup captain was something you really wanted to do?
Suzann Pettersen: It has always been a part of growing up in the Solheim family on the European side. You start out as a young person seeing the event from the outside and then you become a rookie. Not too much longer after that, you’re one of the more experienced players. You keep building onto that experience and pretty soon people are coming up to you and saying, ‘You should definitely be captain one day.’ The more people tell you that, the more you think about it.
I’ve loved every second of the Solheim Cup. Everything about it is an adrenaline rush. I cannot imagine what could be a bigger honor than representing Europe as a member of the Solheim Cup team.
We do things a little differently in Europe in that you have to go through some steppingstones to be captain. Drawing from the pool of people who have been a part of the captaincy team has become a tradition of ours. I caught a little bit of the inside scoop with Annika in 2017 when I couldn’t play because of injury and was asked to be an assistant captain. That gave me a small taste of it. And then, of course (Catriona Matthew) asking me to be part of the captaincy team in 2021 was a huge honor.
Knowing how much goes into the process has been a big help as well. Now I’m already way into it. I’ve already been to the site and seen the golf course. I just love every second of it.
But I’ve also said that if I’m going to do it, I want to be captain while I still have a connection to the players. I still feel like I have a good connection with the current players. One of my biggest duties between now and September of 2023 is to establish great connections and relationships with the new players coming up. Hopefully, there will be new players coming on board. My duty is to make them feel as good as possible.
So, being captain has always been a dream of mine. But it has only grown with my experience over the years.
Q: You’ve seen and played the golf course. What do you think?
A: The golf course is great. There are logistical issues that are a bit spotty. So, you’ll probably find your spot as a spectator and watch it all from there. It’s going to be hard for spectators to walk but they are making some upgrades to bridges and other areas to make it as convenient as possible. I think it will be a fantastic match play golf course and the facilities are absolutely top-notch. We get to stay on site, which is always a massive benefit for the players.
It’s going to be a Solheim Cup with a Spanish vibe. They are super excited to have us and are looking to do everything they can to make us comfortable.
I can’t wait to show the players the venue and have them get to know the place.
Q: In all your Solheim experiences, what have you learned from your various captains over the years?
A: Each captain brings their own flavor to the table. I feel like I had a thorough journey with Beanie. But I’m trying to take all the best things that I saw and learned from each of the captains and then add my own spices. I think the captain’s most important job is to lay out the land for the players. The players are your horses for the week and your job is to make sure they have what they need.
The captain creates the atmosphere and creates the flavor for the team.
Q: Every team has rookies, and every rookie is always surprised by the atmosphere at the Solheim Cup. How do you prepare rookies for that experience?
A: You tell them to go out there and experience it for themselves (laughing). The best way to learn is to throw them out there and have them deal with it. I saw that with Leona Maguire last year. She showed up, looked around and did her own thing.
I’m a little surprised, though, by this recent generation. They don’t seem to have nerves at all. They show up for the first time like they’ve been there before. It’s amazing really. I was still nervous at my last one. I eventually got the crowd behind me, which helped me manage the pressure. But you have to find your own way.
Q: What will the personality of a Suzann Pettersen team be?
A: Go big or go home (laughing). No, there is going to be a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm. But what I’ve learned the hard way is to never forget that the game is bigger than all of us. So, play tough, but play fair. I think that is the important message for all.
I will be excited to see how the team shapes up in the next year and a half. I’ve been watching all the play so far and I’m into it.
Q: When will you start speaking to players, or have you already?
A: I will travel a little bit more. It’s important to establish connections, especially with the young players on tour. It’s important to get to know these girls and find out what you can do for them and how you can help them. I will be doing more of that this year and next