Solheim Cup Teams Arrive in Colorado

The two Solheim Cup squads arrived in Parker, Colo., and have already gotten in their first practice rounds at Colorado Golf Club. The biennial competition involving the best women professionals from the U.S. and Europe starts Friday. The Americans will be led by captain Meg Mallon, while the European captain is Liselotte Neumann of Sweden.

Officials are expecting crowds upwards of 125,000 for the event, with most attending the Friday through Sunday matches. The Americans will be seeking to regain the Cup; they lost two years ago at Killeen Castle in Ireland by a 15-13 margin.

Both teams will face a 7,066-yard golf course, a record length for the competition. The yardage of the course, designed by Coore & Crenshaw, is mitigated, however, by Parker's location a 5,869 feet above sea level. Still, the players expect a stiff test.

The top-ranked American, Stacy Lewis - a three-time winner this year, is familiar with the course. "I've made three or four visits out here," said Lewis, who won the Women's British Open a week and a half ago at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. "I played the golf course a lot. It's the kind of course that I think you need to play a lot to learn the little humps and bumps in the greens and learn things about it.

"So I think length, it definitely helps on this golf course, but I think both teams are fairly equal with that. Really, it's going to come down to the greens. They're so tricky, you get above the hole you're just praying to get it inside 10 feet sometimes. So at the end of the day it comes down to who leaves it on the right side of the hole and who makes those putts."

Her teammate, Lizette Salas, playing for the first time in a Solheim Cup, has also done some scouting. "It's a beautiful golf course," the 24-year-old said. "When I set foot on it, I knew it was going to come down to putting. And I like to play from the green back and have a really good angle coming in. I'm not as long as the other gals, but I rely on my short game.

"I think that's where the key on this golf course is, is to get it within 10 feet and that's my cup of tea right there. So I feel good about this golf course, and I've seen it plenty of times. I came in June and the more you play it the more you get comfortable and know where you're more comfortable."

The European players will have their chances to get used to the layout with more practice rounds Wednesday and Thursday. "It's in really good shape," noted Azahara Munoz, a 25-year-old Spaniard who played at Killeen Castle.

"It's playing pretty long, so I think it's going to be tough to make birdies out there because the greens are pretty tricky," added Munoz. "They move a lot. They are really quick too. You're hitting a lot of long-irons into pretty tiny greens. So it's going to be a good test. I think it's going to be up to making a lot of up and downs out there and just scrambling around. But it's a really good course."

Just like their male counterparts in the Ryder Cup, the Euros believe they have an edge in the Solheim Cup because they've grown up playing in match-play tournaments. "We play so much match play as juniors and amateurs back in Europe," said Caroline Masson, a Solheim Cup rookie from Germany. "On the other hand, I think that the big amateur tournaments in the States are match play as well. U.S. Women's Amateur, so I think it's just great for us to play match play again.

"This year we don't have one match-play event (on the LPGA Tour), so it's just a lot of fun and just a good time to actually play match play again. So we're looking forward to it and getting back into that kind of competition. Because it's definitely different from stroke play. It's always nice to have that one opponent and it's really, really different from what we do all year long pretty much, so we're just all looking forward to it."

The practice rounds will continue Wednesday and Thursday, with the teams going off the first and 10th tees at 8 a.m. each morning. The Cup competition begins in earnest with four foursome matches at 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, with the afternoon four-ball matches teeing off at 1:15 p.m.

On Saturday, there will be morning and afternoon sessions using the same formats as Friday, with the 2013 Solheim Cup finishing on Sunday with 12 singles matches. Those will start at 12:30 p.m.

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