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Suzann Pettersen: Europe can handle role as favorites

Sep 6, 2021; Toledo, Ohio, USA; The Solheim Cup is seen during the trophy presentation at the 2021 Solheim Cup at Invernes Club. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

European captain Suzann Pettersen says the two-time defending Solheim Cup champions don’t feel any pressure in their role as favorites this week.

“No, I think we’re all very ready to go,” she said Wednesday at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain. “… If you look on paper, we have the strongest team that I’ve ever been a part of, and that’s based on great performances over the last few years from all the players.

“So with good results, there’s also expectations, but these girls are so up for it, so we can’t wait.”

The biennial team competition against a younger and less experienced United States squad gets underway Friday.

Pettersen, 42, said she is looking forward to matching wits with U.S. captain Stacy Lewis.

“It’s great going up against Stacy,” she said. “I mean, I’ve had a great journey with her on the LPGA Tour. We’re pretty much the same age, we’re both now a mom, and we’ve had fairly similar careers. She has a couple of majors, I have a couple of majors, we’ve played several Solheim Cups between the two of us. So, yeah, that’s going to be fun.

“But I really can’t wait to see our players go out there and really showcase how good European golf is at this point and stage. I mean, our team reflects kind of the hard work that’s been put into, like, junior golf, Ladies European Tour, and I think it’s just now we’re seeing the results of all the hard work that’s been put in.”

Pettersen said the hardest part of her job so far was whittling a roster to 12 players. Statistical programs helped her with that, and will also play a role in her strategy this weekend.

“We’ve used a lot of stats,” she said. “I mean, throughout my career, I was somehow into stats, but I was also very much a feel player, and I was a bit of a — like, I took a lot by instinct. But it’s always nice to base your decisions on facts, and then you can kind of take your heart and your gut feel on top of that.

“So I think it’s a combination of all, but you can’t hide the facts, and I think it’s great to have in your back pocket, but I would say stats are like any rules, there’s exceptions to any rules. This is a game of golf. We’re all human beings. Yeah, you can statistically say these two players should be great together, but they also got to like each other, you got to have the dynamics. It’s not just about a couple of players. I mean, you got to kind of pair 12 players throughout the week, so there’s a lot of other factors that counters in as well.”

Europe won the 2021 Solheim Cup in Toledo, Ohio, by a score of 15-13.

–Field Level Media