LONDON (Reuters) - Europe’s Solheim Cup skipper Carin Koch believes all the pressure will be on opposite number Juli Inkster and her United States side at the biennial team event in Germany in September.
Koch was involved as an assistant captain when fellow Swede Liselotte Neumann guided the visiting team to a record-breaking 18-10 victory in the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup in Colorado two years ago.
Europe will be going for an unprecedented third straight victory at the St Leon-Rot Golf Club in Heidelberg later this year but the skipper says she feels no extra burden of expectation.
“I think it’s the U.S. team that has the most pressure because they’ve lost the last two matches and losing three in a row wouldn’t be that much fun,” the 44-year-old Koch told Reuters in an interview.
“I see it as a positive thing. We made history last time and now we can make it again and it’s neat to have that goal to aim at.
“I’m not going to put on any extra burden, it’s going to be fun for us,” added Koch at the Ladies European Tour’s Buckinghamshire Golf Club headquarters on the outskirts of London.
Listening to the Arizona-based Swede explaining her plans, it is clear fun will be a key characteristic of the week for her and her 12-strong team.
“If we have fun together, if we laugh together and have a good time, then you get the team spirit and you can get the right result,” said Koch.
“That’s a big part of it. That’s something I’m going to be working a lot on, how can we make sure the players have some fun when we get together in the team room at night?”.
Charley Hull captured the imagination of the golfing world in 2013 when, as a 17-year-old rookie, she won two of her three matches to inspire Europe to their first victory on American soil.
The icing on the cake came in the final-day singles when the English teenager handed the experienced Paula Creamer a 5 and 4 drubbing.
“It will be all about having some laughs together in September and it helps having Charley in the team,” said Koch who has won twice on the U.S. LPGA Tour and once on the European circuit.
“That’s what we had with her last time and it was great. You need people like her around to create a good atmosphere.
“She was so much fun to have around and that was a big part of having her as a wildcard pick. It wasn’t just that she was an amazing player, it was also that Liselotte thought she would be a good influence in the team room.
“Charley is such a bubbly person and it was all new and fresh to her last time.”
With just under five months to go before the Sept. 18-20 matches begin, Koch is unsure of the make-up of her side but she will not be unduly worried if half her side are first-timers to the competition.
“I’m not sure experience is that important because Charley was one of six rookies last time round,” she said.
“I know I played great when I was a rookie and it happened with Charley too. You are so excited to be there that you feel confident, on top of the world and your game kind of follows on from that.
“I look more at results and personality, how many birdies the girls make, how good they are at match play, rather than how much experience they’ve got.”
Koch, though, will be able to draw on the advice of some big hitters among her support staff.
Former world number one Annika Sorenstam is one of her vice-captains while Fanny Suneson, who used to caddie for six-times major champion Nick Faldo, will also be a “strategic adviser”.
“It’s a very important week for the tour and for women’s golf in general,” said Koch. “To have viewers all round the world watching on TV, we don’t get that as much as the men do.
“Week in, week out we do as much as we can but during the Solheim Cup you can make a big impact on people. The level of golf is normally amazing so this is our chance to inspire young women golfers everywhere.”
Editing by xxx