European Solheim Cup captain Annika Sorenstam has revealed she intends to speak to her side in the lead-up to this year’s match to ensure there is no repeat of the controversy that clouded the 2015 contest.
On that occasion, during the Saturday afternoon fourballs, European duo Suzann Pettersen and Charley Hull found themselves at centre of a sportsmanship storm after Pettersen allowed opponent Alison Lee, playing with Brittany Lincicome, to pick up her ball thinking that a short putt had been conceded.
When Pettersen said that, in fact, it had not, she and Hull took a one-up lead down the last, ultimately closing out a two-up win that helped Europe take a 10-6 lead into the final day.
The drama left both Lee and Hull in tears on the course and provoked a heated exchange of words between several players and representatives of both sides.
US captain Juli Inkster described Pettersen’s action as “B.S.”, adding “It’s just not right. It puts a damper on the whole thing.”
Commentating for British television, Laura Davies, the all-time record points-scorer in the Solheim Cup, added: “[Suzann] has been very unsporting. We’ve got the point, but they’ve got the moral high ground. She’s let herself down and certainly let her team down. I’m so glad I’m not on that team this time.”
Conventional wisdom holds that the incident was the main catalyst for the USA’s final day fightback, which saw them win 14.5-13.5, and it is something that this year’s European captain Sorenstam is determined not to see repeated at Des Moines Country Club in Iowa next month.
“I will address it early in the week with the team and then we will move on,” the Swede told bunkered.co.uk this evening. “Everybody involved in 2015 in Germany felt what happened and nobody wants that to happen again.
“The Solheim Cup should be a showcase for the best of women’s golf but what happened there overshadowed it. So, I will address the importance of maintaining your sportsmanship but I don’t feel I will have to say much about it.”
Suzann is mentally tough but it will be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to her
She added: “Nobody wants to move on from it more than Suzann. Everybody makes mistakes and hopefully everybody learns from them. What happened there just shows you how things can go when you’re dealing with great competitiveness and the adrenaline is pumping.
“You look back and think, how did that happen but at the time you perhaps don’t see it.”
Sorenstam also plans to speak with Pettersen, a virtual certainty to make her ninth appearance in the match, to prepare her for the possibility of a negative reception from what is expected to be a partisan American crowd.
“We’ll address that,” she said. “I’ve always been open and connected with Suzann. She’s tough mentally but it will be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to her.”