Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam believes that a European Solheim Cup victory in Ireland this week will kill off talk that the biennial matchplay event is becoming too one-sided.
The United States leads the series 8-3 and will be seeking its fourth successive victory when the three-day match begins on Friday at the Jack Nicklaus designed Killeen Castle course in County Meath, 25 miles north-west of Dublin.
Ten-time major winner Sorenstam, who is one of Europe captain Alison Nicholas’ non-playing assistants this week, does not want to see the event’s format changed to see the United States taking on an International team.
While she concedes many of the world’s best women professionals are from Asia, Australia and South America, the retired 40-year old wants to see tradition maintained.
“It would mean a lot,” Sorenstam said of her hopes for a first European triumph since 2003. “Otherwise you’d go 10 years without winning, then people start thinking about should we change the format and everything.
“Just look at our Majors, we don’t have the history that we as golfers enjoy and if we start changing format or the name, how can you compare.
“I just want to continue and have the Solheim Cup for 30 or 40 years. We have a great competition lets keep it.”
With just three European wins in the 11 Solheim Cups held since the event began in 1990, there has been debate in the game about strengthening the competition.
But players from both sides are against the idea and believe this year’s contest promises to be one of the tightest in the event’s history.
“I don’t really think it matters, because all the Solheims that I’ve been a part of I’ve played six, and we won once of my six,” said Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, the world number two. “But I must say every year it feels like it’s so close. It really comes down to Sunday’s singles matches.
“Even though the final numbers might look like it was a walk in the park for the Americans, it usually comes down to certain matches and once the final putt has dropped, the points keep counting.
“So I would say every single one has been good, close calls for each team to have a chance to win.”
American Juli Inkster, who makes her ninth appearance as a competing vice-captain this year, believes the tradition of the event must be respected.
“I think we need to leave it the way it is,” Inkster said. “You look at the past three Solheim Cups, it was close. It was close until the last day. We were behind a couple of those times.
“I don’t think we need to change it at all. I think this is what the Solheim Cup is all about. I think we have like a Lexus Cup or something like that where we bring in the world players.
“I think sometimes you just have to stick with tradition. I don’t think you need to tweak things all the time. I think this is something we started in 1990, and I think it’s something we need to continue.”
Inkster believes that this year’s European team is one of the strongest she has seen and predicts a close match despite two successive four-point winning margins for the US side.
“I think this is the deepest the European team there has ever been,” she said. “I think the rookies that they have on their team are playing very well. They have a lot of confidence. They’ve been playing well over here.
“I don’t know how you guys keep thinking we’re favorites. We’re going out there and playing like we’re underdogs.”