Suzann Pettersen has the chance to write another chapter of Solheim Cup history
Suzann Pettersen has already been cast as hero and villain of past Solheim Cups. Now the Norwegian takes on a new role as the home captain for the match in Spain in 2023.
While the identity of Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain for the encounter in Rome that will immediately follow the women’s collision remains in doubt, it was almost taken as read that Pettersen would take the reins from Catriona Matthew.
The 40-year-old is hugely experienced, having appeared for her continent on nine occasions, four times as a winner and was apparently impressive in the role of vice-captain to Matthew in Ohio in September, where the Scot equalled a Solheim record by overseeing back-to-back defeats on Team USA.
However, in the wake of the controversy 2015 match in Germany, Pettersen’s candidature did not seem likely at all. Playing with England’s Charley Hull, Pettersen claimed the 17th hole after 20-year-old rookie Allison Lee picked up an 18-inch putt in the belief it had been conceded. Lee was in tears and, on air, Dame Laura Davies declared: “I’m disgusted. How Suzann can justify that I will never, ever know.”
Pettersen later apologised and in 2019 sealed her redemption when, in the last singles out on the Gleneagles course, holed the winning putt on the 18th green. Matthew had selected Pettersen as a wildcard despite her near two-year absence from the sport on maternity leave and after converting the eight-footer, Pettersen retired on the spot. Her position as future leader of the blue-and gold was all but confirmed in that emotional moment and Finca Cortesin, the mountainous layout overlooking the Costa Del Sol, will be her opportunity to write history.
Pettersen celebrates holing the winning putt at the 2019 Solheim Cup
“The easiest way to say it is that I probably have had my highest highs and my lowest lows in the Solheim. I think Solheim really defined me as a player," Pettersen said following Monday’s announcement. "Catriona has left me some really big shoes to fill, but I will do everything I can to help Europe win three Solheims in a row for the first time.”
Meanwhile, The Saudi International issued a statement stating that the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Xander Schauffele and Paul Casey will play in February’s event, despite not yet having received releases from the European or PGA Tours.
The $5m event in King Abdullah Economic City – which dwarfs the prize pot by dishing out more than $15m in appearance fees – spent the first three years of its existence on the European Tour and the US hierarchy was happy to hand their superstars waivers. But in the midst of the saga of Saudi plans to form a Super Golf League in competition to the traditional circuits, the Saudi International has been forced to find a new home on the Asia Tour.
Last week, Telegraph Sport revealed that the European Tour will not issue permits and the PGA Tour is believed to have adopted the same hardline stance. As of yet, no requests have been granted, with the world of golf anticipating the matter to reach its head by the end of December. The list of entrants put out by the Saudis also includes, Englishmen Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood.