Europe chase three in a row at Solheim Cup
It was all becoming a little predictable. But back-to-back victories for Europe has pumped new blood into the Solheim Cup, the 14th version of which gets underway at Sankt Leon-Rot on Friday.
A first ever win on US soil -- by a thumping 18-10 margin -- in Colorado two years ago has given Carin Koch`s team the chance to make it an unprecedented three in a row.
"We`re looking forward to the week and we know that the Americans won`t want to lose three in a row," said Koch, who played in four matches and sank the winning putt for Europe at Loch Lomond in Scotland in 2000.
"We have a strong and experienced team. There are no rookies and it is good to have two Germans (Caroline Masson and Sandra Gal) in the side. It is great for the home country to see their idols in action."
Following the European triumphs in Ireland and Colorado, the USA`s overall lead in the contest has been cut to 8-5 and their captain Juli Inkster is itching to get her hands back on the trophy.
"I can`t wait for Friday," said the 55-year-old, who brings a wealth of experience to the Cup. She has won more matches (15) and more points (18 1/2) than any other American.
"My team is anxious to get out and get going. I think it is going to be very close."
Alison Lee is the sole rookie, although she has played in two Junior Solheim Cups, while key players for the USA include world number three Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie.
But Creamer, who had to rely on an Inkster wild card to make it to her sixth consecutive set of matches, has been woefully out of form recently, missing her last four cuts.
Wie`s place was also in jeopardy due to a series of injuries, but she had a top-20 finish in the Evian Championship last Sunday and had declared herself fully fit.
"I`m delighted," said Inkster. "Evian is a hilly course, but Michelle had a great week. She`s ready."
Scot Catriona Matthew, the oldest player in action at 46, and Suzann Pettersen of Norway are the European veterans with 19-year-old Charley Hull seeking a repeat of her great from in 2013.
"I actually played this course in a junior event three years ago," said the English teenager. "It`s much longer this time. I`m buzzing to get going."
Pettersen is making her eighth Solheim appearance. "It`s been a great ride for me," she said. "I got to play with Annika (Sorenstam) and against some great Americans such as Juli.
"The new youngsters bring some great energy. It`s been a great transition for me."