As one of the greatest players in the history of the women’s game, it should come as no surprise that Annika Sörenstam’s record in the Solheim Cup was nothing short of formidable.
The Swede made eight consecutive appearances as a player between 1994 and 2007 and was the event’s all-time leading points earner until she was surpassed by Laura Davies in 2011.
Following her retirement from playing in 2008, Sörenstam continued to play an integral role for Europe as a vice captain on three occasions and then captain for the 2017 Solheim Cup.
“To be part of building a team together and try and beat the USA, obviously it didn’t happen that time but it was a great experience and I loved every minute of it,” she said.
And ahead of the return of the Solheim Cup to Scotland, Sorenstam reflects on some of her favourite memories of competing in the biennial transatlantic matchplay contest.
RETURNING TO SCOTLAND
Having been on the losing side for her first three Solheim Cups, Sörenstam enjoyed her first victory in European colours in 2000 - the last time the contest was held in Scotland.
Sörenstam picked up two points for her team, both in the foursomes alongside Janice Moodie, and her week at Loch Lomond Golf Club remains one of the fondest of her career.
“The Solheim Cup is one of the premier tournaments that a European player can participate in,” she said. “I’ve been lucky to play in eight of them and playing in Scotland in 2000 was incredible.
“It probably wasn’t the best weather we’ve had, but as you know when you play golf, especially in Scotland, you can get all kinds of weather and you have to learn to adapt.
“It was just incredible fans, incredible atmosphere, the camaraderie within the team and obviously the golf was really good too and I look back at that one fondly.”
SWEDEN’S HOMETOWN HERO
Europe relinquished the Solheim Cup to the Americans in 2002, but Sörenstam was at her best a year later to help wrestle the trophy back in her native Sweden.
She was the best performer with four points from five matches as Europe eventually prevailed 17.5-10.5 and Sörenstam admits the Solheim Cup always brought out the best in her.
“Another Solheim Cup that comes to mind is 2003 when we played in Sweden at Barseback Golf & Country Club and in September you never know what weather you’re going to get,” she said.
“We had the most amazing Indian summer, it was 25C and the sun was shining, we had over 100,000 people watch during the whole week. To win against the USA in Sweden was just special.
“When I look back on the Solheim Cup it brings out the best in all of us, we elevate the game of golf to a different level than we normally do and it’s just an amazing experience.”
FEARSOME IN FOURSOMES
While Sörenstam finished her Solheim Cup playing career with 24 points to her name, nowhere was her record more impressive than in the always tricky foursomes format.
She has won the most foursomes points of any player in the competition’s history with 11.5 (11-3-1) and even Sörenstam struggles to explain her better-ball success.
“I partnered well with Suzann Pettersen and Catriona Matthew and as far as the team goes, we played very well together in foursomes and I think it was just a mindset,” she said.
“It worked out very well and of course when you have success you keep doing it and the more fun it is and if you think about who we played, you always wanted to play the best US team.
“Whether it was Betsy King, Pat Bradley Beth Daniel, Dottie Pepper early on or Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Stacy Lewis, later on, you just wanted to play against the very best.”