Thursday’s Notes: Anticipation is Building at the Solheim Cup

It’s Thursday here at Gleneagles and the media center is active with reporters trotting through the Fan Pavilion beside the 18th fairway on their way to the Opening Ceremonies, where both teams were announced, flags were raised, anthems were played (and sung by both the American and European crowds) and Friday’s pairings were announced.

The course and landscape are beautiful and the weather forecast looks good for first matches tomorrow.

In addition to the pairings for the alternate shot format, both captains announced the order in which each group went out. Neither captain knew whom the other had picked ahead of time. So the matches themselves were a surprise to all until the last minute.

There will be plenty of comments about whether the matches are equal.

Also expect comments about whether captains are sending their strongest teams out first. Both led with rookies – Bronte Law for Team Europe and Marina Alex for Team USA – in the opener. This was strategic. Neither Captain just pulled names out of a hat.

An interesting decision in the Alternate-shot is which player tees off first on the first hole. One player tees off on the even holes, the other on the odds and players then alternate shots until the hole ends. So, for example, the 5th hole is a very long par 4.

If one team member hits a long tee shot the team might decide that the player with the long tee shot should hit first on the first tee. That will allow her to also hit the tee shot on the fifth hole. Number 2 is a reachable par-5. So a shorter hitter could find the fairway and give the longer hitter a chance to reach the green with her second shot.

And don’t be surprised if partners walk down the fairways waiting for partners to hit.  That speeds up play which is a feature of the alternate-shot format.

Lots of thinking!  But these are among the top players in the world.  I’m looking forward to enjoying three days of great golf! Check back here tomorrow for more updates.

Friday’s Notes: The European Crowd is Another New Experience

As I watched the Friday afternoon Fourballs go off the first tee, I think the biggest challenge for Team USA may not be their European opponent’s golf, but the enthusiastic fans cheering for them. The best estimate is that the home-crowd advantage might be worth at least a point, maybe two for Team Europe.

This is the case because the