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More than just one player: Norway in Solheim Cup is crucial
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The Solheim Cup Team in 2003. Suzann is on front row (3rd from left)

When you talk about Solheim Cup and Norway, you are talking about just one player and just one name: Suzann Pettersen.

The only Norwegian member of the European Team, Pettersen has been a key player on six teams.

In 2002, Suzann made her first appearance in Minnesota as the youngest member playing the Solheim Cup and won her first point and match playing foursome with Sweden’s Helen Alfredson. At present time, she continues being youngest competitor in the event history with 21 years. That year, Suzann scored a total of 1 and a half points, but that was only the beginning of a great performance on this event.

 

Suzann in 2002, her first appearance

This was my first Solheim, and I got in on a wildcard! Interlachen was a great experience and I really wanted to prove my spot on the team! A good memory is the match against Michelle Redman, my fighting spirit came all out!

But her European performance and her success in the European Team started some years before, more precisely in 1997 during the Junior Ryder Cup in Valderrama, Spain. That was probably the first time she had the chance to meet one of her heroes and inspiration, Seve Ballesteros. This event has been the platform from which successful professional careers have been launched for several players. Spaniard Sergio Garcia played in the 1995 exhibition match and four years later was part of the full European Team at The Country Club in Brookline, while Suzann played for the first time in 1997 and then in 1999 before becoming Norway’s top female golfer and taking part in six Solheim Cups.

In 2003, Norway was also present in Solheim Cup, on both events including Ping Junior Solheim Cup. The 2003 British Girls Champion Marianne Skarpnord also played in the winning European Junior Solheim Cup team at Bogskogens GC in Sweden. She won her individual match and helped the team to beat US with a final result 12.5 – 11.5. Suzann played 5 matches and won 4 of total of 17.5 points, the highest result up to date for the team. This was an extraordinary victory of the European Team at Barsebäck Golf and Country Club, Malmo, Sweden for the third time.

 

Suzann in 2003, with Annika

A fantastic venue , the crowds were enormous and what a fantastic week! Team europe won with Nilsmark as a captain! Played my first matches paired with Annika! The party after play on Sunday must be the best one !!

In 2005 at Indiana this time, Suzann’s performance was brilliant one more time and did not lose a single match. She won 1 fourball, 1 foursome and halved another 2 matches to add 3 more points to her records. Unfortunately, Team Europe did not win that edition and the US hegemony started until 2011. And again, Norway was also represented by young Lene Krog in the Junior team, who won 2 of her 3 matches, but this time was not victroy for the EU Junior team either. We will need to wait until next edition.

“Always tough coming back to the US to defend! It's a big difference in the support you get from the fans. A tough defeat, but we fought hard to the very end! Remember I played a best ball with Laura, it was some of the best golf I've ever seen ! “

In 2007, back again in Sweden, Suzann earned 2 more points for the EU team and this was probably the hardest year for them. This edition was the second time for the Europeans to lose the Cup on their own soil.

Pettersen in 2007

“Back in Sweden, weather was horrendous, but the atmosphere was incredible! My good friend Alfie was captain! “

In 2009, in Illinois, Suzann did not have her best year at this event and won 1 match only. This was not the time for Team Europe and they lost 12-16. Norway was also present at the Ping Junior Solheim Cup with Tonje Daffinrud, from Tonsberg.

 “Ali as captain, the city of Chicago. Everything was set for another great fight between the two teams! It felt like we had a chance to win this one! “

In 2011, Suzann's performance was crucial and helped the team to their fourth victory.  She won 3 out of her 4 matches. The individual match she played versus Michelle Wie will be in our minds for ever… She recorded the best individual round score 65 (-7) and finished with 3 final birdies to overcome a match that was initially down.

 

 

Suzann in most recent edition, 2011, holing her final putt 

“Killeen Castle must be the best one so far! The victory that pretty much was decided on the last shot! An intense but fun week! We nailed it;)”

 

In the total of 6 appearances, Suzann has been in two EU victories and earned a total of 14.5 points, which means she is the 5thEuropean player who earned the most. Laura Davies is the first with total of 25, having played in every Solheim Cup.

In 2013, Suzann won a new Ladies European event, the World Ladies Championship in Mission Hills and she is currently Rolex Rankings No. 3. When asked recently during a LPGA in Hawaii how excited she is looking at the team that is coming together she answered:

“It's kind of interesting.  I mean, if you look at them now, our team is looking a little different.  I mean, when I used to start playing the Solheims, half the team was Swedish.  We had the No. 1 player in the world who was the most dominant player ever, and couple of English.  It was almost like guaranteed team just sitting right on the paper.  Everyone was playing well."

 "Now things have changed…. Now I think there is a lot of new young players knocking on the door who wants to be the a team.  I don't think that's a disadvantage.  They're hungry and want to perform and get out there.  A lot of them already have a lot of great experiences from playing in the Junior Solheim. So I think our team is, as of now, looking good.  I think we have more and more players starting to play good."

 “If you look at Kraft, I remember standing on the 18th green and looking at the scoreboard, and all of a sudden I'm like, There are six Europeans in the top 10, top 12, which is probably the first time ever.  It was good.”

 This is a signal that something is changing in European Team and Solheim Cup. Maybe this is the year to make history and win the Cup for the first time in US soil, just like as Tony Jacklin and his team did back in 1987…. And Suzanne will be probably there, just like her hero Seve was.
 

Suzann's best memories from past editions and reasons:

Barseback was the first win for me, all the matches I played with Annika, especially the best ball Saturday afternoon! One of my really special moments!

Ireland must maybe be the highlight! It's always more fun to win then to lose!

But how it all came down to the last matches on Sunday and how we all managed to stay focused and right on top of our games was very impressive! A great team effort! Good party as well!

Most disappointing edition and why:

Rich Harvest Farm, I felt we had the best team to compete the Americans on their soil! We really had a chance going into Sunday, and its always disappointing not to pull if off!

Best/favourite team:

Ireland 2011!! There is only one Ali, super Ali!

Her inspiration:

I've learned to fight to the very end. I love the team atmosphere and it makes me find energy and spirit! I've learned a lot from the best, Annika has been a great tutor for myself! To never give up, always try to find a way to out that blue number on the board!

Any anecdote, fun fact to share with us:

There are way too many. But I can say that all the Solheim cups I've played have all been different in their own way. And I must say that some of my best memories from the golf course through my career come from the Solheims!

Relationship with the Norwegian Federation and support from Norway:

Golf is growing fast in Norway, and its fun to see all the kids picking up this great game!

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