It was in the midst of the Solheim Cup jubilation that the deep sense of European unity and team spirit shone through for all spectators and observers to see. For the European captain, Catriona Matthew, there must have been inevitable signs of relief as she lifted that crystal trophy in triumph. It was a moment to saviour and one where you could truly appreciate what she and her team of 12 had just achieved.
For the European Solheim Cup team, whilst the hard-fought 15-13 victory over the United States was just reward for three days of teamwork, intense concentration and spectacular ball striking under serious pressure, it was also a signal of something far greater for the sport.
“Irrespective of the result, I was fixated on the standard of play, the international representation on show and the sheer scale of the spectacle that had been put on for the fans and TV audiences to immerse themselves in. This year’s Solheim Cup demonstrated how strong the women’s side of the game is right now.” For the Confederation of Professional Golf’s Chief Executive, Ian Randell, who himself was Tournament Director and Chief Referee at the 2000 Solheim Cup at Loch Lomond and oversaw the success of 2003 at Barseback in Sweden as the former Ladies European Tour [LET] Chief Executive, his words will ring true for everybody who watched the events unfold in Ohio.
The very make-up of the European team demonstrated this strength impeccably. There was a breadth of international representation within that victorious side from multiple European nations including Germany, Sweden, Spain, France, Finland, Denmark, England and Ireland. Bolstering this success even further was the fact that the next generation of possible Solheim Cup players will continue to span from all four corners of the continent, as during the PING Junior Solheim Cup that took place in the days preceding, there were players within the victorious European team representing the Czech Republic and Italy, as well as from some of the aforementioned nations.
“This was what was most impressive about this year’s event. Having so many nations represented under one flag illustrates the depth of talent that is emerging from many countries that not so long ago would not have had as much representation. It is testament to organisers from the LET and LPGA, as well as the monumental and long-standing support from PING that we are where we are today with the Solheim Cup – it has truly grown to be one of the greatest events in our sport,” Randell added.
Supported by their caddies, psychologists, nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches and PGA Professional coaches, today’s players have built a strong and elaborate system of support networks that have enabled them to shine on one of golf’s biggest stages. In respect to the latter of those supporting roles – the PGA Professional – it represents a much deeper meaning to Ian, the CPG and the 43 Member Countries that the organisation collectively represents.
“All of us involved in golf in Europe can take pride in the success of the European Team as the international makeup of the side is testament to the investment in sharing of knowledge and expertise across the continent and the hard work of National Federations and PGAs to provide opportunities, not least through expert coaching from PGA Professionals at all levels from beginner to elite player.
Supported by their national PGAs, the PGA Professional is golf’s true influencer and by providing internationally recognised standards of education, development and training, our collective of CPG Member Countries are helping to produce a highly-skilled workforce to better support the development of players such as Emily Pedersen and Matilda Castren. If there was ever a signal that the work from our PGAs, national Federations and others was paying off, this Solheim Cup and the team that was represented would be it.”
In fact, it was these two players that had the final say over last night’s result, as Matilda Castren holed a nerveless eight-foot putt to win her match on the 18th green and claim Europe’s 14th point, before Emily Pedersen made sure of the victory by winning the last match on the 18th. On her putt, emotions were clear to see on Castren’s face: “It’s just crazy, crazy, I can’t believe I made that putt.”
It sparked an outpouring of joy among the Europeans, who were considered rank outsiders in the build-up, having won just once previously in the US, but have now won four of the past six editions of the biennial event. By completing such a compelling victory, it creates an exciting narrative for the next staging in 2023 at Finca Cortesin in Spain and only furthers the reputation and impact that the biennial contest will have on growing golf.
“Using the example of the Ryder Cup, we have seen how great an impact events like the Solheim Cup have on grassroots golf,” adds Randell. “By supporting golf development programmes and grassroots initiatives through the Ryder Cup European Development Trust, not to mention the millions of eyes who watch the spectacle every two years, the Ryder Cup has been able to help create a thriving sport across all levels. The same can be said for the Solheim Cup so this result, delivered by a diverse European team, means you can only feel excited about the future for the event and for the growth of women’s golf. Congratulations to Team Europe.”