Stacy Lewis named Team USA captain, all set for Solheim Cup Spanish showdown with Suzann Pettersen

The LPGA announced that the two-time Major winner will become the youngest American captain at 36 years of age.

For lovers of alliteration the next clash between the best of Europe and America's women golfers is going to be nothing less than a tantalising and terrific treat.

A Solheim Cup Spanish showdown between Suzann and Stacy, no less.

The golfing grammar geeks ideal set-up was confirmed when the LPGA announced this week that Stacy Lewis, currently the ninth-best ranked American in the world rankings, had been named captain of Team USA in the 2023 match at Finca Cortesin on the Costa del Sol.

Late last year Europe had revealed Norway's Suzann Pettersen as its captain and the pair have much in common: both are two-time Major Champions, both hugely admired by their peers, both steely-eyed competitors, both have experiences of victory and defeat in the match (as both players and vice-captains).

"To be named captain for the USA Solheim Cup Team is an incredible honour and I'm beyond grateful to the Committee for choosing me," said Lewis. "I have so many amazing memories from my years on the team and the two opportunities I've had to work alongside the team.

"I absolutely love the Solheim Cup and I want 2023 to be as great an experience for my team as my years wearing Red, White and Blue have been for me."

Lewis was a four-time player for Team USA, losing in 2011 and 2013, winning in 2015 and 2017. She was an unofficial VC in 2019 and an official one in 2021.

At 38 years, 7 months and 6 days old on the first day of competition in September 2023, she will be the youngest American captain in Solheim Cup history.

Pettersen had been equally excited about her new role, saying: "I am simply thrilled to be named Solheim Cup Captain. This is the biggest honour of my career."

How do the two measure up and what will they have to address in the next 18 months? Let's take a closer look.

Lewis on the match

"I have learned so much from the past captains on the Solheim Cup Committee, and the fact that they chose me to lead this team is one of the proudest moments of my career.

"Juli Inkster gave me my first taste of captaincy when she asked me to help her with the singles line-up in Germany in 2015. Being an assistant captain for Pat was honestly the most fun week I've had at a Solheim Cup. I'm more than ready to step into this role."

Lewis on being a playing captain

"I always thought when I was captain I would not be playing. I would say the last two weeks have definitely changed my view on that, coming out the way I've played the last month or so. But I'm not going to say yes or no either way right now.

"If it gets to sometime next summer and my name is still on that points list, if I need to build the best team possible and my name is a part of that, then I'll do it."

Pettersen on the match

"My best golfing memories are from the Solheim Cup. You are out there with your team mates, your friends, and you all work for one goal. You fight for your friends and you share incredibly precious moments.

"I have played with and under many wonderful captains since I made my debut in the competition 19 years ago. Every captain is different and brings their unique skills to the table. I am very much looking forward to bringing my experience to the role and working hard over the next 22 months to defend the Cup on Spanish soil."

Lewis in the Solheim Cup

The anecdotal evidence - from her fellow competitors - suggests Lewis has always displayed leadership qualities. As a player she has always made the absolute most of her game to accumulate 13 LPGA titles including those two Majors.

As a person she has displayed incredible fortitude to even swing a club after diagnosis at 12 of a spinal fusion. Indeed, she missed her first year of college golf following surgery, but fought back to amass honours at the University of Arkansas.

She went 5-0-0 in the 2008 Curtis Cup, but never replicated that form in the Solheim.

Her overall record through her four matches is five wins, 10 losses and one half. She went 2-6-0 in foursomes, 0-3-1 in singles, but impressed in fourballs (3-1-0).

Pettersen in the Solheim Cup

In much the same vein, Pettersen has been a key voice in the European team room, but she has also led by example on the course. In 2011 and 2019 she dragged Europe over the winning line in thrilling fashion with displays of viking-like ferocity and no little skill.

She edges Lewis with 15 LPGA wins (and another six on the LET), but her Solheim record is infinitely superior.

In nine appearances she won 18 matches, lost 12 and halved six. She went 7-5-2 in foursomes, 9-3-1 in fourballs and - oddly - only 2-4-3 in singles. The two points she did win, of course, were absolutely vital.

The challenge for Lewis

The Americans won eight of the first 11 Solheim Cups, a dominance that was beginning to threaten the future of the contest, such was the one-sided nature of it. But Europe has won four of the last six.

Key to reversing that recent trend around will be getting more from her stars. In the 2021 defeat, for example, Nelly Korda and Danielle Kang won a point apiece, and Lexi Thompson one and a half.

The test for Pettersen

There is a neat historical echo ahead of the match's first visit to Spain because Europe have a) turned American dominance on its head in the last six matches, and b) done so lifting the trophy in four of the previous six editions. That's exactly what had happened when the Ryder Cup headed to Spain for the first time in 1997.

Pettersen will want her Spaniards in great form to energise the galleries, Leona Maguire to maintain her thrilling form of the 2021 match, and Anna Nordqvist, Georgia Hall and Charley Hull to remain the backbone of the team. Her task is to keep the players on their toes and resist complacency. New ground in Spain should aide that.

The teams

Pure nonsense (and not how the teams will be selected), but out of interest the top 12 ranked players for the two teams are currently:

Team USA: Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Lexi Thompson, Lizette Salas, Ally Ewing, Jessica Korda, Austin Ernst, Megan Khang, Yealimi Noh, Amy Olson, Mina Harigae, Jennifer Kupcho. (Not counting Lewis …)

Team Europe: Anna Nordqvist, Leona Maguire, Celine Boutier, Georgia Hall, Charley Hull, Sophia Popov, Madelene Sagstrom, Carlota Ciganda, Nanna Madsen Koertz, Caroline Masson, Matilda Castren, Mel Reid.

READ MORE: Leona Maguire becomes the first Irish winner on the LPGA: A long time coming but worth the wait

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