Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist believes Europe’s players have nothing to prove against a United States team trying to avoid an unprecedented third straight Solheim Cup defeat.
Europe are seeking a hat-trick of victories after success in 2011 and 2013, the latter representing a first win on USA soil since the biennial contest began in 1990.
Eleven of the American team on the receiving end of that 18-10 thrashing in Colorado are at St Leon-Rot in Germany to attempt to regain the trophy, with the only rookie, Alison Lee, suffering from a bout of food poisoning and ruled out of at least today’s opening foursomes.
USA captain Juli Inkster has insisted on a ‘business-first’ approach from her team, banning the face paint and temporary tattoos worn by the players two years ago.
“You can tell, definitely,” Nordqvist said. “I think they lost the last two cups and there is definitely more pressure on them. I feel like our team, we don’t have to prove ourself with the last two victories. I think they have a lot of pressure.
“There’s been a lot of talk about who’s the underdog and who should win. The American team is definitely stronger in the stats. I think their average in the world ranking is 24 or 25, and we’re 50. So I think they have the pressure this week.
“Maybe Juli is trying to take a different approach, but I think we really have a strong team and we have a good plan.”
American veteran Cristie Kerr, who is making her eighth consecutive Solheim Cup appearance, believes Inkster’s approach has paid dividends.
“It is the same team, but it doesn’t feel like the same team,” the 37-year-old said.
“Everybody’s said it this week. It just feels like a different team. It feels like we’re all more bonded, more meshed.
“Hats off to Juli, she’s done a great job with us so far. To get a different feeling when we only have one different player, that’s hard to do. It just seems like our chemistry is better this year.”
Kerr admits the previous two defeats are a major source of motivation this week, adding: “I think definitely it’s on everybody’s mind. But we are very similarly, as a team, focused on what we need to do to play well for ourselves.”
European captain Carin Koch, who holed the winning putt at Loch Lomond in 2000 and was a vice-captain two years ago, has nine of the 12 players who won in Colorado on her side. But although fellow Swede Caroline Hedwall became the first player to achieve a perfect 5-0 record in 2013, the off-form 26-year-old has been left out of the opening foursomes. Nordqvist and Suzann Pettersen will face Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer in the first match, with English pair Melissa Reid and Charley Hull – who had a hole-in-one in practice yesterday – up against Brittany Lincicome and Michelle Wie. Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher then take on Kerr and Lexi Thompson, with Catriona Matthew and Germany’s Sandra Gal in the final match against Lizette Salas and Stacy Lewis.