The Solheim Cup 2013
July 29, 2013
by William Szczepanek
The Solheim Cup is again up for grabs in 2013. It is a biennial event between the United States and Europe that dates back to the 18th century, or it seems that way. Well, actually it began in 1990, way back when the U.S. dominated the golf world. It is an exciting, prestigious, unpredictable and somewhat outdated tournament. The match play competition pits the best golfers from Europe and the United States against each other in an exciting duel of points. This event and the cup is considered the most highly coveted trophy in women's professional golf team competition. Unfortunately, It is also one of the only team competitions during the year. Also unfortunately, most of the best golfers in the world are not eligible to play. Of the top ten golfers in the world only two, Stacy Lewis of the U.S. and Suzann Pettersen of Norway are eligible to play. That is because most of the best golfers in the world are from someplace else. Did I hear someone ask where? No? Okay, I'll move on.
Tradition is a good thing. Friendly competition between the U.S and Europe is enjoyable for many and the concept of the Solheim Cup, created by Karsten Solheim, the founder of Ping, is a great one. But while the popularity of the tournament is at an all time high, the prestige of the tournament is beginning to wane as tour players from other parts of the world step up, particularly those from Asia.
The LPGA's newfound answer to this quandary is the International Crown, which is to have 8 countries with 4 players each compete in an Olympic-type event in the even-numbered years when the Solheim Cup is not played. If teams were selected from the current Rolex Rankings, the counties of South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Sweden, Australia, Taiwan, Spain and England would battle for the inaugural title. That means that Suzann Pettersen, the third ranked golfer in the world would not get to play. That's a shame, but overall I think that the concept is a definite step in the right direction. Maybe any country represented on the LPGA should have the opportunity to field four players from any professional level. We'll see how the International Crown compares to the real Olympics of 2016 where golf will return for the first time since 1904.
Maybe someday we can look forward to something like a Pak Cup (i.e., Se Ri Pak) where the US plays a contingent from South Korea. Better yet, considering that the best players in the world are now predominately from across the Pacific, I suggest that the South Koreans, Japanese or Australians or a combination of all of the counties of that region of the world design a tournament where all major continents can pull together a contingent of players for a World Series of Golf. Since the tournament would be continental, the U.S. team would be combined with Canada and Mexico for a North American contingent, etc., creating the first truly continental sports tournament in the world, putting nationalism alongside nation building.
Okay, it will never happen, but the people in this world need to start working together more and thinking bigger about the issues that face all of us and this could provide a start. If this is successful then maybe we can attack global warming.
The Solheim Cup is a great tournament and is one of the most fun to watch. I look forward again to enjoying it immensely this year.
Okay, what time is it here when it is morning in Seoul, South Korea?