Annika Sörenstam, one of the most successful golfers in history, has been announced as the European captain for The 2017 Solheim Cup at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in Des Moines, Iowa, from August 14-20, 2017.
The eight-time Solheim Cup player, who also served as a vice captain in the last three contests, takes the reigns for the 15th Solheim Cup with the aim of leading Europe to a sixth victory in the biennial team match-play competition.
The 89-time tournament winner and 10-time major champion earned 24 points from her eight appearances as a player and holds several Solheim Cup records for Europe, including the joint most matches won on 22 with Dame Laura Davies and most points scored in foursomes competition with 11 ½. She played on two winning sides, at Loch Lomond in 2000 and at Barsebäck in 2003 and was instrumental in two further victories as a vice captain at Killeen Castle in 2011 and in Colorado in 2013 under Alison Nicholas and Liselotte Neumann respectively.
“It’s an absolute honor to be named the 2017 European Solheim Cup team captain,” said Annika. “The Solheim Cup was a very important component of my playing career and I’ve enjoyed working as a vice captain the past three Cups to prepare for this opportunity. The event has really grown over the last decade and we look forward to representing Europe in Des Moines, a tremendous golf market.”
Annika was unanimously chosen by a nine-strong selection panel consisting of the three most recent European Solheim Cup captains – Alison Nicholas, Liselotte Neumann and Carin Koch – as well as the Ladies European Tour (LET) Chairwoman Helena Alterby Nordstrom, Chief Executive Officer Ivan Khodabakhsh, Chairwoman of the Players’ Council Rebecca Hudson, one additional LET Board Member, LET Director of Events & European Solheim Cup Director Dae Ramirez and John Clark as a representative of the Solheim family.
“We are extremely pleased to have Annika leading our team for the next Solheim Cup match in Iowa,” said Ladies European Tour CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh. “When you think about her pedigree as the best player of our generation, her personal accomplishments and Solheim Cup experience, she has an exceptionally strong understanding of the attributes required to be an inspirational, respected and successful captain of the European Team.”
PING Chairman & CEO John Solheim commented: “Annika’s experience in the Solheim Cup and steely determination are the perfect combination to lead the European team next year at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. I’ve known her since her rookie year on Tour and watched in awe at Moon Valley Country Club as she became the only LPGA player in history to shoot 59. She’s been a role model for the game’s current stars, many of whom will now draw inspiration from her as they seek to recapture the Solheim Cup.”
Annika made her Solheim Cup debut in 1994 at the Greenbrier in West Virginia where she earned one point in the foursomes. Two years later, she amassed four points at St Pierre in Wales in 1996 and then another three in 1998 at Muirfield Village, Ohio. She contributed two points to Europe’s 14½ – 11½ victory at Loch Lomond in Scotland in 2000 and then 3½ points at Interlachen in Minneapolis in 2002.
One of her most memorable Solheim Cup performances came a year later when she contributed four points in a 17½ – 10½ victory in front of passionate Swedish galleries on home soil at Barsebäck. She went on to win four points at Crooked Stick in Indiana before making her final appearance at Halmstad in Sweden in 2007, scoring another 2½ points in European blue before stepping away from competitive play.
Annika returned to the Solheim Cup fold four years later as a vice captain under Nicholas at Killeen Castle in Ireland when Europe defeated the United States by 15-13 for their first win in eight years. She was also a vice captain under Neumann in 2013 when Europe earned their first win in the United States with a score of 18-10 in Colorado, the eight point margin of victory being a record in the competition. She gained further experience as part of the backroom team under Koch at St. Leon-Rot in Germany in 2015, when Europe lost by 14½ – 13½, the closest score in Solheim Cup history.
She becomes the ninth European Captain following Mickey Walker, Pia Nilsson, Dale Reid, Catrin Nilsmark, Helen Alfredsson, Nicholas, Neumann and Koch. She and her 12-woman team will work to regain the Cup from the United States next summer, when Juli Inkster returns to lead the U.S. Team.