ST LEON-ROT, Germany (Reuters) - Carin Koch is hoping Friday will be a case of history repeating itself after Europe’s Solheim Cup captain again paired up Scandinavians Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist for the opening foursomes.
Norwegian Pettersen and Swede Nordqvist, the highest-ranked members of the team at world number eight and 12 respectively, face American duo Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel as they look to emulate their win over Stacy Lewis and Lizette Salas at the same stage in Colorado two years ago.
“I just wanted a strong team to go out first,” said Koch at a raucous opening ceremony held in the Oktoberfest pavilion at the St Leon-Rot Golf Club on Thursday.
“They like to play together. I think it will be quite loud on the first tee so it is nice to have a couple of experienced players to enjoy that moment.”
As loud as it might be, the noise level is unlikely to be the same as it was for the opening ceremony.
A sea of color greeted both sets of players as they were welcomed on to the stage by bag-pipers and drummers.
The home crowd yelled ‘Eur-ope, Eur-ope’ at the top of their voices while the Americans replied with a repeated chorus of ‘USA, USA’ as each contingent tried to drown out the other.
The banter was all good natured, though, and there were beaming smiles and flag-waving aplenty from both sets of fans.
The only sour note came when LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan greeted his introduction by waving the Stars and Stripes and was promptly booed.
When it was her turn to address the crowd at the St Leon-Rot venue just outside Heidelberg, Swede Koch glanced at her 12 players and said: “You are the stars of Europe and I’m proud to be your captain”.
It is often said that the captain who produces the best eve-of-competition speech takes a notional one-point lead into the matches that follow and the only faux pas on Thursday came from United States skipper Juli Inkster.
Laughter rang out when the 55-year-old Inkster said “this week wouldn’t be any fun without my ass captains” before the seven-times major winner swiftly corrected herself by adding “whoops, assistant captains”.
Europe are this week looking to land a hat-trick of victories in the biennial team event for the first time.
Editing by Rex Gowar