Light the match

A preview of the Solheim Cup at Inverness Club


Happy football season, everyone. But before we get too wrapped up in pigskin, there’s golf to attend to.

The house that Bob Tway built

Two years after Europe’s dramatic victory at Gleneagles, the Solheim Cup has returned. The home U.S. squad consists of seven players from the 2019 bout, while the visitors have just five returning players. Still, both sides have a fair amount of experience, and several participants got a peak at host venue Inverness Club at the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship. As evidenced by social media posts from American and European players, these teams are hyped to be in Toledo.

Team USA

Team Europe

Players to watch

Danielle Kang – USA (4-4-0 career Solheim Cup record) – Perhaps the most passionate Solheim Cupper, Kang was also the 2020 LPGA Drive On champion at Inverness. Unfortunately, she has not been in top form lately. Nonetheless, she’s one of Team USA’s leaders, and you know she wants to avenge her lackluster 1-3-0 showing at Gleneagles in 2019.

Céline Boutier/Georgia Hall – Europe (4-0-0/6-3-0) – These two holdovers from 2019 may be paired together multiple times at Inverness. They went 3-0-0 as a team at Gleneagles, and both won their individual matches. Boutier finished runner-up to Kang at the Drive On last year, and Hall placed in the top six in the last two majors championships of 2021.

Sophia Popov – Europe (rookie) – Of Europe’s rookies, Sophia Popov has the most promise. Ranked No. 30 in the world, the German has shown potential in match play, defeating Inbee Park, Patty Tavatanakit, and Shanshan Feng at the 2021 LPGA Bank of Hope Match Play before falling to Ally Ewing in the final.

Nelly Korda – USA (3-0-1) – It’s easy to forget that Nelly Korda is just 23 years old, and her only career Solheim Cup appearance came in 2019. Now the No. 1 player in the world, she would pair up well with anyone on the U.S. side, but it would be tough for Pat Hurst not to put her with sister Jessica. At Gleneagles, the Korda sisters won both of their matches in 14 holes or fewer.

Anna Nordqvist – Europe (12-9-2) – Nordqvist is Europe’s most experienced player, and the team needs a big performance from her this week. The three-time major winner had some chipping issues en route to her victory at the AIG Women’s Open two weeks ago, but her ball-striking and putting are obviously dialed in.

Mina Harigae – USA (rookie) – Harigae was fighting for rent money last year on the Cactus Tour and has now become the fourth oldest U.S. rookie in Solheim Cup history. She has had three top 10s in her past seven starts, a T-13 at the Women’s Open, and a T-6 at Inverness last August.

Holes to watch

Nos. 1 and 10 – As has become customary at the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, the 1st tee will be surrounded by grandstands to create a raucous environment. Players will enter the coliseum twice, as the 1st and 10th tees are connected. Both holes are par 4s that give players the option to lay back to the top of the hill or push their tee shots down to a lower fairway. The 10th features a small green surrounded by hummocks.

Photo credit: Andy Johnson

Nos. 6 and 7 – These back-to-back long par 4s play across the most dramatic land on the property and are, in our opinion, the two best holes on the course. No. 6 asks players to thread their tee shots between fairway bunkers in order to have a chance at hitting the green in regulation. Any approaches left short will feed off the front of the green. On No. 7, depending on which tee is used, players will have to calculate how much of the crossing creek to carry. Those who bail out left will have their view of the green blocked out by a hill.

Photo credit: Andy Johnson

No. 9 – The members’ 18th will play as the 9th for the Solheim Cup to ensure all matches reach it. We’d love to see this short par 4 set up as drivable on one of the days, but even if the tee is back in the 300+ range, players will have to decide whether to push it up close to the green and risk a tricky pitch or lay back to a comfortable wedge yardage.

Photo credit: Garrett Morrison

No. 17 – Many matches could be decided on this sweeping par 4. On the tee shot, players will need to negotiate a fairway bunker on the left but avoid running into the rough on the right. The green is set in a natural amphitheater that will heighten any pressure situation.

Photo credit: Andy Johnson

Quick Hooks

At the Tour Championship, Patrick Cantlay maintained the two-shot he started with, recording a 67 on Thursday. Jon Rahm fired a 65 to jump into second place. Leaderboard

Trey Mullinax, Andrew Novak, Hayden Buckley, Sahith Theegala, Austin Cook, Curtis Thompson, Patrick Rodgers, and Kurt Kitayama crowd the top of the leaderboard through one round of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. Leaderboard

Min Woo Lee, Henrik Stenson, and Kalle Samooja have temporarily overtaken the Italians at the DS Automobiles Italian Open on the European Tour. Eddie Pepperell, Tommy Fleetwood, and Adri Arnaus are also in the mix. Leaderboard

According to Dylan Dethier, Netflix and the PGA Tour have made a deal to launch a documentary series after the 2021-22 season. The series will be modeled on Drive to Survive, Netflix’s popular show about Formula 1. Given the Tour’s well-documented distaste for journalistic freedom, we’re skeptical that this new production will be as juicy as D2S. But who knows, maybe Silicon Valley will persuade Ponte Vedra to loosen up a bit.

The Ryder Cup Twitter account has started posting really insightful tours of holes at Whistling Straits. The videos feature cool graphics and smart commentary from Luke Donald and Jim “Bones” Mackay.

The Latest from The Fried Egg

The Fried Egg Podcast: How Everyone Misunderstands Team Match Play

Team match play is the most entertaining format in golf, but we might not understand it very well. What factors should team captains consider when pairing players up for foursomes and four-ball? How much does a player’s past match-play record matter? In alternate shot, how should teammates decide who tees off on which holes? Joseph LaMagna (@JosephLaMagna) believes that the conventional answers to these questions rely on faulty reasoning. Joseph runs Optimal Approach Golf, which advises PGA Tour pros on strategy, and writes an excellent newsletter called Finding the Edge. In this episode, he and Garrett Morrison dig into the intricacies of team match play and the tactics that Team USA and Team Europe should use in the upcoming Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

The Shotgun Start: Solheim study, Ryder Cup 1st mate Phil, and Cantlay crushes Net Tour Champ format

This early Friday episode begins with a discussion on best practices for unboxing videos and some Brendan anxiety over that. Then it’s on to the event of the week, the Solheim Cup, which is set up perfectly from a schedule, roster, venue, and tv format. Now they have to actually play the matches to deliver the goods, and Andy and Brendan preview the pods on the U.S. side, discuss the behavioral study that grouped them, Bubba’s involvement, and a few great holes to watch at Inverness. News hits on Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples being named assistant captains for the Ryder Cup, which leads to a digression and a rant on Phil’s lashing out at the USGA about driver length. News also covers Patrick Cantlay’s destruction of the format in East Lake and its “criminal” impacts. Flashback Friday goes way back and celebrates arguably the greatest run of golf ever. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

Whether you have an empty wall in your own home or you want to get ahead on holiday shopping, take a trip to our photography section! Shop prints from Inverness, Prairie Dunes, Aronimink, Sand Valley, Streamsong, and more.

Photo credit: Andy Johnson