PARKER, Colo. (AP) – Cristie Kerr typically doesn’t need additional motivation when the Solheim Cup rolls around.
This time is different.
It was bad enough that Europe won the Solheim Cup two years ago in Ireland, ending the American winning streak at three matches. Kerr felt directly responsible for the loss, even though she didn’t hit a shot in Sunday singles. But then, that was part of the problem.
Kerr was supposed to be the anchor match against Karen Stupples, but pain all week in Kerr’s right forearm reached a point that she couldn’t play. She forfeited the match, giving Europe a valuable point on the board.
Europe rallied to win two of the last three matches — it halved the other — and won back the Solheim Cup, 15-13.
She doesn’t know how she injured herself — perhaps from snatching up a tote bag earlier in the week — but her right arm didn’t feel any better after playing 36 holes on Friday and Saturday. And she knew she couldn’t play on Sunday.
“I had no option,” Kerr said. “I couldn’t hit it 10 yards on the range. You can’t play that way.”
The one regret was not being on the first tee to formally concede the match to Stupples. Kerr said there was so much confusion surrounding her health and forfeit that she began hyperventilating. Some saw her as the scapegoat when it was over. Kerr said there were comments she read from fans. Asked about the reception from her team, she didn’t want to reveal anything said in the locker room.
“It was upsetting to myself and to my team,” she said. “It was not a good situation. I don’t mind taking a blow. I’d rather have it happen to me because I’m strong enough to handle it.”
That leads to this week at Colorado Golf Club, where Kerr will team up with Paula Creamer in the anchor match of the foursomes session Friday morning as the 13th Solheim Cup gets started. Kerr is the most experienced player on a U.S. team that will try to keep its record perfect on home soil.
A smidgen more motivation?
“More than a smidgen,” Kerr said without a trace of a smile.
This Solheim Cup already had a new look this year, mostly because of 10 new faces.
Missing from the European team is Laura Davies, who had played in every Solheim Cup since these matches between Europe and the United States began in 1990. Europe now has six rookies on its team, including 17-year-old Charley Hull of England. Juli Inkster is not playing the Solheim Cup for the first time since 1996. She has a daughter older than two of the American players on this team — 18-year-old Lexi Thompson and 20-year-old Jessica Korda.
Europe has six rookies. The United States has four. The 10 newcomers are the most for a Solheim Cup since 2002.
“This is great because you’re seeing the present and the future of the Solheim Cup,” U.S. captain Meg Mallon said Thursday. “And it’s kind of cool having these young players that are going to be a part of this event for a very long time. So I’m excited to see how they respond to this. They’re so fired up right now, and I’m not quite sure they know what they’re getting into.”
Both captains are playing only two rookies in the opening session of foursomes.
Stacy Lewis and rookie Lizette Salas are in the opening match against Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall. European captain Liselotte Neumann has rookie Jodi Ewart-Shadoff, paired with Catriona Matthew in the third match against U.S. rookie Jessica Korda and Morgan Pressel.
Another European rookie, Beatriz Recari, will play with Suzann Pettersen against Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford. In the other match, Mallon saved her traditionally toughest team, Kerr and Creamer, in the anchor spot against Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher.
Creamer also felt the sting from last year. She has the best record of any American — 11-3-5 — and she had never lost in singles until last time in Ireland. Matthew faced her in the opening match in singles and scored a 6-and-5 win over the American, setting the tone for a European rally.
Creamer remembers sitting as a team when the matches ended in a rare loss. She figures it united the Americans coming into this week.
Mallon said she has rarely seen Kerr so at ease during Solheim Cup week.
“Nobody knows but me how much I gave that week and how much (pain) I played through,” Kerr said. “But yet again, you’ve got to play singles. So it was very disappointing. Everybody has incredible motivation, but I have a little extra. So I am looking for some special stuff out there this week, and I’m going to be there for my team.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
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