Europe will be hoping for more heroics from Leona Maguire as they look to claim a historic third consecutive victory over USA in the Solheim Cup this weekend in Finca Cortesin, Spain.
Maguire spearheaded Europe to just a second ever win on US soil with a record-breaking performance as a rookie in Ohio two years ago where she picked up a staggering 4.5 points out of 5 as Catriona Matthew’s side ran out 15-13 winners.
As in the Ryder Cup, Europe are generally viewed as outsiders in the biennial contest but heading to Spain this weekend it does seem like the narrative has changed in that regard.
While she has named three rookies, Suzann Pettersen possesses a vastly experienced team with 31 appearances across the team, more than double of the Americans. Nine of the twelve players have featured in at least one of the 2019 and 2021 victories while eight played in Ohio two years ago where the Norwegian was a vice-captain.
Stacy Lewis’ American charges appear to be in a period of transition which is perhaps why she was appointed as USA captain for this year and next year.
Only three players survive from their last Solheim Cup triumph in 2017 including the drastically out of form Lexi Thompson.
USA are more inexperienced in both personnel and age with five rookies named in Lewis’ side while their average age of 25 is nearly two and a half years younger than their European opponents.
The shift in momentum in this competition certainly seems to be with the Europeans this year.
The disparity between the two sides in terms of world rankings has arguably never been closer. Although USA boast the world’s top two players (Lilia Vu, Nelly Korda), Europe have certainly closes the gap with an average world ranking of 42 with USA ranked at 24.
Europe have five players inside the top-20 compared to four from America while they also have two players in Emily Kristine Pedersen and Caroline Hedwall ranked outside the top-100, otherwise the stats would be even closer.
USA boast three-time major champion and current AIG Women’s Open and Chevron Championship champion Lilia Vu and US Women’s Open winner Allisen Corpuz in their ranks while Celine Boutier will look to be Europe’s star turn having lifted her maiden major crown at the Evian Championship.
Out of Form US Players
Similar to Pádraig Harrington’s European team in 2021, USA have a handful of experienced players arriving in Spain, seriously out of form.
Lexi Thompson was in danger of losing her LPGA Tour card this year and she appears short of action having made just three of eleven cuts this season with no finish better than 19th.
The experienced player earned her spot on the team via her Rolex World Ranking which seems like a massive get out of jail card for her.
Danielle Kang will be making her fourth Solheim Cup appearance after registering just three top-10 finishes in 2023.
Who will play with Leona Maguire?
Maguire broke the all-time rookie points record in either the Solheim Cup or the Ryder Cup with a total of 4.5 points out of a possible five (2 points better than anybody else in the 2021 Solheim Cup), which helped Europe to narrowly win the cup 15–13.
Two and a half of those points came alongside experienced Solheim Cup campaigner Mel Reid with the pair combining to win both of their foursomes matches while they earned a half point in their four ball battle.
Reid lost on the 18th to Yealimi Noh in the singles while Maguire won a further two points in four ball (w/Georgia Hall) and in the singles, comprehensively beating Jennifer Kupcho 5&4.
However, the Englishwoman wasn’t selected as one of four wildcard picks from Team Europe Captain Suzann Pettersen which begs the question: Who will pair up with Leona?
The Cavan assassin will have no shortage of options or players pleading with Pettersen to pair up.
While some captains make wildcard decisions based on historic pairing form, Maguire’s game is ideal for matchplay and Pettersen will be hoping she can strike up another clinical partnership.