- Alistair Tait
Laura or Suzann? Does It Matter?
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
No surprise Catriona Matthew doesn’t want to captain the European Solheim Cup team for a third straight time. Smart woman. She’s the first European captain to win two straight matches, and on both side of the Atlantic. Why wouldn’t she want to go out on a high?
“It’s time for someone else to have a go,” Matthew said. “It's over to someone else now. We have so many good past players, and I think everyone deserves their chance to be captain.
“I was lucky enough to play in nine and I've captained two, and I've had a fantastic time. It's the best week I've had every two years and to have been involved with it now for over 20 years… well, I'm sure I'll be there in Spain watching.”
The question is: who takes over as captain?
Laura Davies and Suzann Pettersen are the obvious candidates for Finca Cortesin Golf Club, Spain two years from now. Both were members of Matthew’s backroom staff. Both have massive Solheim Cup experience with 12 matches played for Davies, and nine for Pettersen.
Either player will slot into the job like a headcover slipping over a driver. They’ve got the Solheim Cup in their blood.
Davies would be the obvious choice since she’s the elder of the two at age 57, 17 years older than Pettersen. Dame Laura has been around forever, but at some point she’ll have to step back. Her window of opportunity surely has to be shrinking? Pettersen has bags of time to take over after Laura has done the next two.
Here’s the thing, though: it doesn’t really matter whether Davies or Pettersen captains the European side. Someone with no experience of golf could probably lead the European Team. As I noted yesterday, Europe has so much more strength in depth as a team nowadays that it’s far easier to put pairings together than it was in the past. No passengers nowadays, just Solheim ready pros thanks to Europe’s top players competing against the best in the world on the LPGA Tour.
So Europe is spoilt for choice. After Davies has done her two stints, and Pettersen hers, or vice versa, it’ll be time for Solheim stalwarts like Anna Nordqvist, Mel Reid, Caroline Hedwall, Caroline Masson, Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz and then on to the Georgia Halls, Charley Hulls, Bronte Laws, Celine Boutiers and Leona Maguires.
Take your pick. Like the Ryder Cup, Europe has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to future leaders.
#JustSaying: “Solheim Cup players lose the ability to function for one week every two years, and it would drive me insane to go and get bananas on the third green.” Laura Davies in 2018 on being European captain
Photograph courtesy of the Ladies European Tour