Europe’s Solheim Cup team announced for defence bid in Ohio

European team captain Catriona Matthew will be hoping to complete back-to-back successes next month in Inverness, Ohio after the triumph of 2019 in Gleneagles.

European captain Catriona Matthew has announced her six picks which complete the team which will attempt to defend the Solheim Cup won in such dramatic fashion two years ago at Gleneagles.

The 12 players will be hoping to become just the second visitors to taste triumph on American soil and will be emboldened by an impressive performance by many of its top performers at last week's AIG Women's Open, none more so than the winner Anna Nordqvist.

Matthew had an unprecedented six captain's picks to add to the six automatic qualifiers.

The latter were Emily Pedersen, Georgia Hall, Nordqvist, Sophia Popov, Charley Hull and Carlota Ciganda. The wildcards are Leona Maguire, Madelene Sagstrom, Matilda Castren, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Mel Reid and Celine Boutier.

Matthew will be delighted she can build a team around the English pair of Hull and Hall, plus the Swede Nordqvist and the Spaniard Ciganda. All four are proven performers on this stage and would grace any Solheim team.

Boutier was superb on debut two years ago, Reid offers experience, Sagstrom makes a second start, Popov is a major winner and Pedersen rejuvenated in the last two seasons.

Maguire is in fine form, Castren a winner on the LPGA this year, and Madsen very nearly pipped Nordqvist yesterday.

"It was pretty tricky," Matthew said. "I think we had most of our picks set but that last kind of one or two with so many of our players playing well this week, there were so many kind of different scenarios.

"Last week we were going over them, and had about three or four different teams that could happen depending on what happened today. Very happy with our picks and how it all turned out today."

She was most excited about the prospect of introducing Maguire to the event.

"Leona has had a fantastic year this year. She's right up there in the race to the CME and probably one of our top two players before this week. Obviously she was world No. 1 amateur for a couple of years, and it's maybe just taken her two or three years longer than perhaps others to settled I think as a pro.

"I think she's got that real grittiness and she's a really good match player with a great record from the Curtis Cup and played well in the LPGA Match Play in Vegas. I think she'll be a solid, one of these never-give-up-type players."

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The American team is the heavy favourite based on a big advantage in terms of both world rankings and history.

In the rankings they have the World No. 1, two of the top five and three of the top 12. Europe's leading performer is Sophia Popov in 28th.

But, as we'll see below, Europe's price of 2/1 offers value.

Team USA

Automatic qualifiers: Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Ally Ewing, Austin Ernst, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Megan Khang, Lizette Salas, Jennifer Kupcho.

Likely to be picked (three from): Yealimi Noh, Marina Alex, Mina Harigae, Brittany Altomare, Lauren Stephenson.

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Team Europe

Automatic qualifiers: Emily Pedersen, Georgia Hall, Anna Nordqvist, Sophia Popov, Charley Hull, Carlota Ciganda.

Captain's picks: Leona Maguire, Madelene Sagstrom, Matilda Castren, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Mel Reid, Celine Boutier.

History

Viewed simply as a head to head the Americans clearly dominate.

There have been 16 matches and Team USA has won 10 of them, with six European triumphs.

Recent history

There's also absolutely no doubt that the story of the Solheim Cup is a little reminiscent of the Ryder Cup, which is to say that there was early American control of the result, followed by a European renaissance.

It's even possible to see a direct echo of that transformation.

The European men went close to finally winning again away from home in 1983, finally got over the line in 1985, won for the first time in American in 1987, and have since won more often than they have lost.

The European women did the same. In 2009 they went close to a long-awaited win, they completed it in 2011, became the first European team to win away from home in 2013, and have won three of the last five in total.

Europe in America

It's a poor record. Played eight, lost seven, won one.

How the matches progress in-play

In 2009, 2011 and 2019 the match was tied 8-8 heading into the singles. In 2013 Europe led 10.5-5.5 and in 2015 it led 10-6. Only in 2017 was it not in the hunt at that stage, but even so it had led 2.5-1.5 after the first morning.

In other words, the last six have been tight at some point. Which makes the 2/1 for Europe tempting. It's more or less what they've been in each of the last five and taking the price would leave you feeling relatively confident that at some stage you'd be able to lay it back at the very least.

Year by year in recent times

2009 - the match in Illinois was tied heading into the singles whereupon the Europeans took an early lead. Team USA captain Beth Daniel famously issued an Uncle Sam rallying cry to her players who responded with a fierce fightback and a 16-12 victory. But the Europeans had gone close.

2011 - A finale for the ages in Ireland. It was disrupted by poor weather, granting Suzann Pettersen the opportunity to rally the troops. They returned to the course and won almost every hole they played when there was little option but to do exactly that if they wanted to win.

2013 - Confirmation of Europe's complete turnaround with a stunning 18-10 demolition of the home team. Charley Hull made her debut as a 17-year-old winning won two points, including singles victory over Paula Creamer, after which she asked her opponent to sign a ball for her friend.

2015 - The Americans were on the ropes heading into the final day in Germany before controversy dragged them back into it. Alison Lee assumed a putt was given, Pettersen was adamant it had not, the rancour was immediate. The visitors used the incident to incite a fightback that never looked likely on Saturday night.

2017 - Juli Inkster remained as American captain and retained the trophy with a clinical 16.5-11.5 victory in Iowa.

2019 - Catriona Matthew took over captain's duties on home soil at Gleneagles and she proved inspirational. Once again, the match was tight and the final singles matches were tense, fretful, and, just as in Ireland, Pettersen was the star of the show. She drained the winning putt and immediately retired.

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