29 August 2011, Dublin, Ireland: Captain Alison Nicholas has named her European Team for The Solheim Cup, taking place at Killeen Castle in Ireland from September 23-25. Nicholas handed her wild cards to Spain’s Azahara Muñoz, Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall, England’s Karen Stupples and Sandra Gal of Germany.
The four complete the 12-woman team that will attempt to wrest The Cup back from the United States of America three weeks’ from now.
“I am confident in my team and I believe that we will do very well at Killeen Castle,” said Nicholas, who also captained the European side in 2009 at Rich Harvest Farms in America.
“These players represent the best of European women’s golf and we look forward to putting on a magnificent show for the fans.”
Scotland’s Catriona Matthew along with Sweden’s Maria Hjorth, Anna Nordqvist and Sophie Gustafson qualified from the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
England’s Melissa Reid and Laura Davies, Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and Christel Boeljon from the Netherlands had already earned their places on the team from the Ladies European Tour’s Solheim Cup points’ list.
Nicholas has two assistant captains in Joanne Morley and Annika Sorenstam, while the United States Team Captain, Rosie Jones, also has two assistant captains. They are Sherri Steinhauer and Juli Inkster, who will be the first playing captain in Solheim Cup history. Jones named her team on August 21.
The United States has won the last three matches and eight of the 11 editions played against Europe since the inaugural event in 1990 with an overall score line of 8-3. However, Europe will be targeting a fourth home victory after their most recent success at Barsebäck Golf and Country Club in Sweden in 2003.
Melissa Reid (England)
Laura Davies (England)
Suzann Pettersen (Norway)
Christel Boeljon (Netherlands)
Maria Hjorth (Sweden)
Anna Nordqvist (Sweden)
Catriona Matthew (Scotland)
Sophie Gustafson (Sweden)
Azahara Muñoz (Spain)
Caroline Hedwall (Sweden)
Karen Stupples (England)
Sandra Gal (Germany)
Alison Nicholas (England)
Joanne Morley (England)
Annika Sorenstam (Sweden)
Melissa Reid, 23, England.
DOB: 19th September 1987
Interests: Playing football & supporting Derby County, and snowboarding
Reid will make her Solheim Cup debut in Ireland, having led the European points’ list. She also represented Europe on the 2005 PING Junior Solheim Cup Team in the USA. She joined the LET in December 2007 and was Rookie of the Year in 2008. She has amassed two career victories at the 2010 Turkish Airlines Ladies Open and the 2011 Deloitte Ladies Open in Holland.
Laura Davies, 47, England.
DOB: 5th October 1963
Interests: Playing football & supporting Liverpool Football Club, fast cars and gardening.
Davies is the only player from either the US or European teams to have played at every Solheim Cup since 1990 and she will be making her 12th Cup appearance. She secured her place on the team automatically after five wins on the Ladies European Tour in 2010, which took her overall victory total to 79. Included in that total are four major championships, with 20 LPGA Tour titles and 45 on the Ladies European Tour.
Suzann Pettersen, 30, Norway.
DOB: 7th April 1981.
Interests: Skiing, keeping fit and music.
World No.2 Suzann will be a dangerous opponent having earned a six stroke victory at Killeen Castle in the Irish Open as recently as early August. She has 13 career victories, including the Safeway Classic presented by Coca-Cola won on the LPGA less than a fortnight ago and the 2007 LPGA Championship, which is a major. Pettersen is making her sixth Solheim Cup appearance having played in every contest from 2002-2009.
Christel Boeljon, 24, Netherlands.
DOB: 30th July 1987.
Interests: Field hockey, tennis, listening to music and reading.
Boeljon will make history as the first European team member from the Netherlands in the 22-year history of The Solheim Cup. She qualified automatically from the LET points’ standings after a consistent two seasons on Tour. In May of 2011, she earned a long overdue maiden victory at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open and she has since posted five additional top ten finishes, including second places in Slovakia and Finland.
Maria Hjorth, 37, Sweden.
DOB: 5th October 1973.
Interests: Reading, listening to music and aerobics.
Hjorth will participate in her fifth Solheim Cup having previously represented Europe in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009. She qualified from the Rolex World Rankings after two consistent seasons, the highlights of which were victories at the 2010 LPGA Tour Championship and at the 2011 Avnet LPGA Classic in May. Hjorth has four LPGA victories and two on the LET.
Anna Nordqvist, 24, Sweden.
DOB: 10th June 1987.
Interests: Watching and playing all sports.
Nordqvist turned professional in January 2009 and burst onto the scene by becoming a first time winner at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, presented by Coca-Cola. Later that year she also won the LPGA Tour Championship presented by Rolex. She will make her second Solheim Cup appearance having been selected as a pick by Captain Alison Nicholas in 2009 as a rookie. Representing Sweden, she won the European Nations Cup in Spain playing alongside Sophie Gustafson in 2010 and the pair successfully defended their title in April. She has posted three top-10 finishes on the LPGA in 2011 with a season-best tie for 5th at the Shoprite LPGA Classic.
Catriona Matthew, 42, Scotland.
DOB: 25th August 1969
Interests: Fitness, tennis, reading.
Matthew earned the first of her seven career victories at the 1996 Australian Ladies Open and the most recent at the Aberdeen Ladies Scottish Open presented by EventScotland in August, but the highlight of her career was winning her first Major Championship at the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, just 11 weeks after the birth of her second child. She will make her sixth Solheim Cup appearance in Ireland, having made her event debut in 1998. After earning a captain’s pick in 2003, she also qualified in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Sophie Gustafson, 37, Sweden.
DOB: 27th December 1973
Interests: Motor cycles, music and photography.
Gustafson earned her first of 26 professional titles in 1995 in the Swiss Open, and won her most recent at the 2011 European Nations Cup representing Sweden alongside Anna Nordqvist. The quality and consistency of Gustafson’s play can be demonstrated by her having topped the LET ranking four times in 2000, 2003, 2007 and 2009. Having played in every Solheim Cup since 1998, she will make her eighth appearance on the European team at Killeen Castle, where she won her fourth Irish Open title in 2010.
Azahara Muñoz, 23, Spain.
DOB: 19th November 1987
Interests: Tennis, shopping and spending time with friends.
Muñoz will make her Solheim Cup debut in Ireland having received a wildcard pick from Captain Alison Nicholas. She turned professional in September 2009 and made an immediate impression, winning the Madrid Ladies Masters on her pro debut in October. In 2010, she was named LPGA Rookie of the Year with a season best tie for fourth at the Bell Micro LPGA Classic. In 2011 her best finish was second at the Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle.
Caroline Hedwall, 22, Sweden.
DOB: 13th May 1989.
Interests: football, sports themed films.
Henderson Rookie Hedwall is in her first season on the Ladies European Tour and will also be a rookie on The European Solheim Cup Team having received a wild card pick from Captain Alison Nicholas. Hedwall won the LET’s Final Qualifying School in December and shortly after won the New South Wales Open on the Australian Tour on her professional debut in January. She has since earned two tournament victories on the LET at the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open and at the Finnair Masters.
Karen Stupples, 38, England.
DOB: 24th June 1973
Interests: Cooking, watching movies, football and shopping.
Stupples will make her second appearance on the European team following a Captain’s selection. She made her event debut at Crooked Stick in the USA in 2005. With three career victories – at the 2004 Welch Fry’s Championship and Women’s British Open as well as the 2009 Wales Ladies Championship – she is a proven winner on both Tours. Her best finish this season has been a tie for ninth at the AVNET LPGA Classic.
Sandra Gal, 26, Germany.
DOB: 9th May 1985.
Interests: painting and design, dancing, wakeboarding, playing the violin and modeling.
Gal will make her Solheim Cup debut in Ireland, having earned a selection from Captain Alison Nicholas after a sterling season on the LPGA Tour. Gal joined the Ladies European Tour this year after her maiden victory at the KIA Classic, where she defeated Rolex Rankings No.2 Jiyai Shin with a 72nd hole birdie. She has amassed two further top ten finishes this season on the LPGA Tour.
Alison Nicholas, 49, England.
DOB: 6th March 1962.
Interests: Golf days, clinics, coaching, commentary and charity work.
The winner of the U.S. Open in 1997, Nicholas made six straight Solheim Cup appearances as a player and was on the European team when it triumphed in Scotland in 1992 and 2000. She retired from tournament play in 2004, but was involved in the competition as Catrin Nilsmark’s assistant captain in 2003 and in 2005. She made her debut as Captain at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois in 2009 and was re-appointed by the European Solheim Cup Committee.
Joanne Morley, 44, England.
DOB: 30th December 1966.
Interests: Reading, music, sport.
Morley serves as assistant captain to Alison Nicholas for the second consecutive Solheim Cup and was a playing member of the European team in 1996. The two-time Ladies European Tour event winner captured the Ladies’ German Open in 1996 and 2000. She also spent much of her career on the LPGA.
Annika Sorenstam, 40, Sweden.
DOB: 9th October 1970.
Interests: Cooking, fitness and business projects.
Sorenstam was the most dominant player in women’s golf and stepped away from tournament play at the end of the 2008 season to focus on business projects and start a family. Throughout her career, she re-wrote the record books whilst earning 89 wins worldwide including 10 major championships. Sorenstam represented Europe on eight Solheim Cup teams from 1994 to 2007 and still holds a number of all-time records including most matches won (22) and most points earned (24).
Azahara Muñoz, captain’s pick:
“It’s a huge honour. My goal this year, the only thing I was thinking about, was playing The Solheim Cup. I’m so excited and I don’t even have the words to describe how I feel right now. It’s always been a dream.”
Sandra Gal, captain’s pick:
“It’s a huge honour and I’m so, so excited that I got picked. I really can’t wait for Solheim Cup week to start. I think we have a great team and I’m very confident.”
Caroline Hedwall, captain’s pick:
“Of course, it’s an honour and actually a dream. I couldn’t believe when I started this year that I would actually play The Solheim Cup this year. It’s just amazing and I’m very excited about it. I guess playing in front of the European crowd is going to be a lot of fun. I felt like after the Evian I felt I showed Alison and the assistant captains that I could compete against the European players. I think I had a pretty good week at the British, at the Evian and this week, so I felt like I could have a chance but you never know, so it just feels amazing. I remember when I played the PING Junior Solheim Cup in 2007: that was awesome and I think this is going to be even better.”
Karen Stupples, captain’s pick:
“It’s a big mix of emotions: firstly, sheer joy and happiness at being part of a fantastic team and secondly, it’s exciting for me because I get to play for Ali, who I grew up watching and always admired. It’s like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’m really excited and want to play in it now! I think we have an unbelievable team and we’re all playing well. We all want to give it 100 per cent and see where it puts us at the end of the week.”
About The Solheim Cup:
The Solheim Cup is named in honour of Karsten Solheim, and his family, the makers of PING golf equipment. The Solheim Cup is the most prestigious international team event in women’s professional golf. It is a biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition featuring the best U.S.-born players from the LPGA and the best European-born players representing the Ladies European Tour (LET). The U.S. Team leads the competition, 8-3. The 2011 Solheim Cup will be played at Killeen Castle in County Meath, Ireland, Sept. 23-25. The 2013 Solheim Cup will be contested at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado. In addition to founding sponsor PING, Global Partners of The Solheim Cup include Golf Ireland and Rolex. For tickets and information, log on to www.solheimcup.com.
About the Ladies European Tour:
The Ladies European Tour (LET) is Europe’s leading women’s professional golf tour and formed as the WPGA in 1978. Over the last 33 years, the tour has developed into a truly international organisation and in 2011 will operate 27 golf tournaments in 20 different countries worldwide. The LET professional players represent 34 countries and their game is broadcast in 240 million homes in 80 countries around the globe. Follow the LET online at www.ladieseuropeantour.com or on Twitter @LETgolf.