Solheim Cup Day 1 foursomes: Lexi to hit first shot

Solheim Cup Day 1 foursomes: Lexi to hit first shot
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CASARES, Spain – Lexi Thompson will hit the opening tee shot Friday at the Solheim Cup.

The U.S. veteran will lead the way alongside partner Megan Khang against the young Swedish pair of Maja Stark and Linn Grant in the first foursomes match at Finca Cortesin (click here for how to watch).

The match begins at 2:10 a.m. ET, on an opening hole that plays as a 280-yard, drivable par 4.

It’s an eye-opening start for U.S. captain Stacy Lewis, who said she has been wildly impressed with Thompson’s play in practice rounds this week in Spain. Thompson has struggled mightily this season, recording just a single top-20 finish (T-19, in her most recent start) and ranking 138th on the LPGA’s season-long standings, but she received a clear vote of confidence from her captain as she prepares to make her team-high sixth appearance.

“Lexi has looked unbelievable this week,” Lewis said. “She’s off the charts right now. The ball-striking looks better than it has in a long time.”

Stark and Linn are Solheim Cup rookies, but they asked not just to play together – but to head out first for their team.

“I’m just gonna let ’em go,” European captain Suzann Pettersen said.

As for the other pairings, Pettersen said the European team shouldn’t have any surprises – the players were informed on Monday of the first-session partnerships.

Here are the remaining three matches on Friday morning – with some analysis of each:

With the Solheim Cup set to begin Friday morning, here are the biggest questions to be answered.

2:22 a.m. ET: Danielle Kang/Andrea Lee (U.S.) vs. Celine Boutier/Georgia Hall (Europe)

Kang’s week began dramatically when her clubs got lost in Amsterdam. But they arrived Tuesday night, and she’s been able to prepare normally for the past two days at Finca Cortesin.

Boutier took the next step in her career this year by winning the Evian Championship, and now she teams up with Hall, who has gone 4-1-1 in the alternate-shot format in her cup career.

2:33 a.m.: Nelly Korda/Allisen Corpuz (U.S.) vs. Leona Maguire/Anna Nordqvist (Europe)

Korda, who owns a 5-2-1 record in this event, needed to find a new partner after her sister, Jessica, had an injury-riddled season and didn’t make the U.S. team. She landed one of the top American players this year in Corpuz, who won the U.S. Women’s Open but is making her Solheim debut.

Maguire was one of the standouts of the victorious 2021 squad, going 4-0-1, the only player that week who didn’t lose a match. The Irishwoman will team up with the most experienced player on either side, with the 36-year-old Nordqvist making her eighth cup appearance. Nordqvist, who has a 14-10-3 record in this event, is also serving as an assistant captain for the Europeans.

2:46 a.m.: Ally Ewing/Cheyenne Knight (U.S.) vs. Charley Hull/Emily Pedersen (Europe)

Ewing has played in the last two cups, both losses for the Americans, and has a disappointing 2-5-1 record. Her partner for alternate shot will be Knight, a rookie who has missed the cut in three of her last four starts entering the Solheim Cup.

Hull, meanwhile, is making her sixth straight appearance for the Europeans, racking up an impressive 11-5-3 mark. She has had a breakout year in the majors, posting a pair of runner-up finishes. Overall, she has four second-place finishes this year.

Pedersen is making her third Solheim appearance, after going 3-1 two years ago. She has missed only four cuts on the LPGA this year but doesn’t have a single top-10. At No. 122 in the world, she is the lowest-ranked player in the event.

Sitting out the opening session, most notably, are Americans Lilia Vu and Rose Zhang.

Vu was the year’s breakout star, winning the Chevron Championship and Women’s Open to reach No. 1 in the world. Zhang, meanwhile, was one of the most dominant amateurs in history and immediately splashed on tour, winning in her LPGA debut this summer.

“You’re going to see her a lot,” Lewis said of Vu. “You don’t win two majors and sit on the sideline for very long.”

Because of the difficulty of the course, both physically and mentally, Lewis said that she expects all 12 Americans to play in at least one of the two sessions on Friday, and likely no player will compete in all five matches. Pettersen, however, said that she would wait and see how the opening day unfolds before deciding on her lineup for afternoon fourballs.

“I feel like I’ve had these four pairings done on paper for quite a few months now,” Pettersen said. “It was more, like, in what order do you play them?

“Both teams this year, we have so many great players, and there are only so many that gets to play each session. But I think it’s great to have both experience and rookies out there to get the hang of it, get the feel, and let ’em play.”

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