Chip debacle in 2000 still irks Annika
The Solheim Cup will be played for the 13th time this week, beginning Friday at the Colorado Golf Club, just outside of Denver. There have been highs and lows, triumph and heartache for both teams through the years, moments the players will never forget. This week, espnW will highlight that history as six Solheim standouts share their favorite memories.
Annika Sorenstam, Sweden
Eight appearances, 22-11-4 record
Once during Solheim Cup competition, England's Laura Davies was asked if she and Annika Sorenstam would form a great pairing. Davies joked that Sorenstam was so good that the Swedish superstar and Mickey Mouse would have been a top-notch duo.
Of course, that's being a bit ridiculous, right? Besides the fact that he's an American and couldn't play for Europe, the large cartoon rodent isn't known for his golf etiquette -- not with those oversized shoes always inadvertently stepping on fellow players' lines.
We make this absurd little joke because etiquette -- or lack thereof -- was at the heart of one of the more memorable Solheim Cup moments involving the legendary Sorenstam.
You know how time passes and something that seemed serious becomes funny? That didn't happen with this incident. Sorenstam can crack a few dry lines about it, but it still sticks in her craw.
It happened at the 2000 Solheim Cup at Loch Lomond in Scotland. Sorenstam holed a 25-foot chip shot that appeared to halve the 13th hole in a match against Kelly Robbins and Pat Hurst. Then Robbins realized she actually had been away and should have gone before Sorenstam.
U.S. captain Pat Bradley stepped in and decided to make Sorenstam replay the shot, which caused angry feelings among the Europeans and some regret and embarrassment for the American side. Ultimately, the whole thing underscored just how fiercely competitive the Solheim had become.
"When people ask me what I wanted to be known for, I always said sportsmanship," Sorenstam said. "When that happened, that was no sportsmanship at all, and that made me upset.
"It wasn't about losing the hole or the match. It was more the principle that somebody could do something like that."
As for the rest of that match, which the Americans won 2 and 1, Sorenstam said, "There's no doubt the last few holes of the match, it was as cold as it could be. The weather was cold, but [the atmosphere] was extremely cold."
What warmed European hearts considerably, though, was an overall victory in that Solheim Cup, their second in the history of the competition. Europe also had won when the event was in Scotland in 1992. But that pre-dated Sorenstam, whose first Solheim appearance was in 1994 when she was a 24-year-old who had yet to win an LPGA event.
By the time she played her last Solheim Cup, Sorenstam was a Hall of Famer and one of the LPGA's greatest of all time.
"Annika became the best player in the world, and to have her sitting there next to you in the team room was a massive boost," Davies said. "I think Annika inspired us all. And we all wanted to show Annika we were worthy of being her teammates, because she was that good."
While Loch Lomond was a mixture of emotions despite the European triumph, Sorenstam had her most glorious Solheim moments in 2003 in her native Sweden. In that Cup, Europe trounced the United States 17½ to 10½, with Sorenstam going 4-1-0.
Earlier that year, Sorenstam had captured the attention of the sports world by playing in a PGA tour event at the Colonial. She also had two majors among her six LPGA titles in 2003.
"That was one of my top years, and then we were playing in Sweden," Sorenstam said. "There were so many wonderful highlights of that Solheim competition. It was September, and the weather was like a summer day. Everything was just aligned."
Sorenstam also went 4-1-0 in her 2005 Solheim matches, but the Americans won that Cup. Her final Solheim playing appearance was in 2007, when the event was held in Sweden again. Sorenstam went 2-2-1, and Europe lost. She retired after the 2008 season.
"Winning is what we recall the most," she said. "But it's not just about the wins, because we've been so close so many times and there have been great weeks without winning.
"I think it's the camaraderie you have that whole week and the golf that's played. Everybody steps it up a notch. That's what I always remember from the Solheim: fierce, competitive golf with great friends."