Observations from a memorable 2011 Solheim Cup
It’s too bad I was stuck on a plane when Europe was making its stirring comeback at the 2011 Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle just outside Dublin in Ireland. I missed what golf insiders are calling the “best Solheim Cup” ever.
I could sense this event had the makings of being special. Spirited Irish golf fans always seem to help create a stage worthy of a show-stopper. I got a notion that the Euros were going to win as early as Friday afternoon when I was walking the course and doing interviews for a golfchannel.com story (check the link at www.golfchannel.com/news/travel-insider/solheim-cup-fan-experience-second-to-none). The European players just seemed so into it and so focused. The crowds were egging them on. Only a couple of remarkable comebacks by the Americans kept them in the matches early on.
I truly believe, however, that if American Cristie Kerr had been able to play in that last singles match on Sunday – she couldn’t play and forfeited a point, citing a wrist injury – the Americans would have won their fourth straight Solheim Cup. She would have gotten at least a half point (if not a full point) and the margin for error would have been much larger for the U.S. team. With less pressure, maybe Ryann O’Toole finishes her match stronger and doesn’t melt down on the 18th hole. Nothing like a little controversy to make a tournament so great.
How can you not be a fan of the Solheim Cup after the action-packed back nine of singles matches on Sunday? This is one of the best events in golf. It probably ranks among the top eight for the loudest, most energetic golf tournaments on the planet, behind the Ryder Cup, President’s Cup and the Waste Management Open in Scottsdale and the four men’s majors.
It’s been a great five-year run of tournament golf for the Emerald Isle. Unfortunately, the struggling Irish economy probably won’t attract another Ryder Cup (held in 2006 at the K Club), Walker Cup (2007 at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland) or Solheim Cup anytime soon.
I met a handful of U.S. golf fans who said they traveled to the Solheim Cup solely for two reasons: 1, to support women’s golf; and 2, to support the Irish economy. They were handsomely rewarded with a memorable event in a magical place.
The Killeen Castle course is beautiful, a place certainly worth playing if you ever decide to visit.
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