The 2023 Solheim Cup begins with Europe favoring the young USA

When U.S. captain Stacy Lewis announced her selection for the Solheim Cup a little less than a month ago, she spoke at length about how excited she was because of the balance of seasoned veterans and seasoned newcomers, all with excellent resumes to train the Americans.

Among the dozen members of Team USA, six have won major championships, including two this year by Solheim Cup newcomer Lilia Vu. All but two are in the top 35 in the world rankings and three are in the top 10 heading into women’s golf’s most prestigious international team event.

But when the Americans face Europe on Friday at Finca Cortesin in Andalusia, Spain, they will do so as underdogs, say not only the oddsmakers but also Lewis, a first-time captain who didn’t hesitate to explain why her team is perceived as disadvantaged.

At the top of the list is Europe, which has won the Solheim Cup consecutively, most recently on American soil at the Inverness Club in Toledo in 2021. Captain Suzann Pettersen’s Europeans want to secure third place in a row for the first time.

“I don’t know what the rankings will show on paper, but I think Europe has to be favored,” said Lewis, who will remain captain of Team USA when the 2024 Solheim Cup is played at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC “They won the last two. They have really great players who play well. We are going overseas and there is no doubt about that with my team. I just think that Europe is really, really strong. They have all the momentum in this event right now.”

The US Solheim Cup team is complete, with Rose Zhang joining four other rookies

However, the United States has plenty of firepower, if not Solheim Cup experience, when it comes to lifting the trophy for the first time since defeating Europe (16½ to 11½) in 2017 at Des Moines Golf and Country Club to win back in Iowa.

At the heart of Team USA’s lineup is Vu, the world No. 2, and US Women’s Open champion Allisen Corpuz, also a Solheim Cup rookie and in just her second year on the LPGA Tour. The young duo – each 25 years old – have combined for three major championships and four wins this season, as well as five additional top-10 finishes.

Joining Vu and Corpuz are Solheim Cup newcomers Cheyenne Knight, 26; Andrea Lee, 25; and Rose Zhang, 20, the former amateur phenom who became the first player in 72 years to win in her professional debut on the LPGA Tour.

Zhang’s win came in a playoff over Solheim Cup teammate and 2022 major winner Jennifer Kupcho, 26, in June at the inaugural Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Course in the shadow of Manhattan.

“I’m not worried about chemistry at all,” Lewis said. “These five are newbies, but they are very experienced in terms of the amount of golf they have been able to play. Rose is the only true rookie, but she probably has more experience than many of us combined – at major events that is.”

Vu is now the only player in the Solheim Cup field on both sides to have won multiple major titles this season.

She stormed to the final major championship of the year at the Women’s British Open last month, shooting two consecutive under-par 67s to secure a six-shot triumph. Five of Vu’s Solheim Cup teammates, including Corpuz, finished in the top 11 at Walton Heath Golf Club outside London.

Vu also won the Chevron Championship, the first of five majors on the women’s professional golf calendar, in a playoff after trailing by four shots in the final round. Birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 helped Vu reach a playoff with her Solheim Cup teammate Angel Yin, 24, and she won on the first playoff hole at Carlton Woods outside Houston.

“I feel like I’m playing really well,” said Yin, who did not qualify for the 2021 Solheim Cup. “Obviously I missed it two years ago, so I want to make this team even stronger, especially because Stacy is captain and it’s a great honor as a kid watching Stacy and playing with Stacy.”

Yin is one of two players to finish in the top 30 in every major this season.

Ally Ewing, 30, competing in the Solheim Cup for the third time, is one of three captain selections, along with Knight and Yin, who played on the last U.S. team to win the Solheim Cup. This team also included Danielle Kang (30) and Lexi Thompson (28), both of whom were on the squad this year. Kang and Ewing are the only U.S. players in their 30s.

In contrast, five members of Team Europe are in their 30s, including three-time major champion Anna Nordqvist – the oldest on both squads at 36 – who serves as playing alternate captain this year.

“I wouldn’t call us underdogs, but I think we can come here with nothing to lose because there really is nothing to lose,” said Vu, who is trailing China’s Ruoning Yin, this year’s Women’s PGA Championship winner Second place in the world rankings. “I think we’re a pretty young team, but I think we’re going to come out of this really strong, we’re going to have fun and our game is going to show on the court.” The 2023 Solheim Cup begins with Europe favoring the young USA

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