2011 Solheim Cup looks to Ireland and the Killeen Castle Course
This year’s Solheim Cup heads to Ireland taking place at the new Jack Nicklaus-designed Castle Killeen golf course in Dunsany, Co. Meath just northwest of Dublin. Set for September 23-25, the tournament is similar in format to the Ryder Cup, teaming top U.S. golfing women against Europe’s leading players.
The newly opened Castle Killeen course, an interesting combo of links meets parkland with thick grasses and deep bunkers fanning out from the 12th-century castle (now a five-star luxury hotel - see www.killeencastle.com), debuted its first major event last year at the Ladies Irish Open.
Playing a mixed bag of weather conditions from dreary drizzle to sun – something you might encounter in September – one thing remained constant: the imposing gray castle was hardly ever out of sight and the bunkers were tough, so tough, I watched Lisa Maguire, one of Ireland’s 15 year old wonder pros, take two to get out of a deep bunker on the first day of the event.
Playing in the Open was a handful of American players including Solheim hopefuls Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome, Angela Stanford, Kristy McPherson and Brittany Land but the field was dominated by Europeans like Laura Davies (who leads today’s European rankings), Sophie Gustafson, Suzann Pettersen and the 15 year-old Maguire twins, Leona and Lisa.
As the LPGA schedule moves forward, players will continue to earn points which determine their position in the rankings. Ultimately 12 players will make each team: the top 10 in the rankings and two Captain’s picks by Rosie Jones, U.S. Captain.
Currently in the top 10 and therefore strong contenders to make the team are Christie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Juli Inster, Brittany Lang and Christina Kim. There is still a ways to go so stay tuned.
The cutoff tournament for players to earn points is the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, Aug. 19-21 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Oregon. The team will be announced Sunday after that event. So there’s still a lot of golf ahead and as things get closer, the excitement heats up.
Come September, you can watch the action from the comfort of your coach on a wide-screen HD TV. Or you can book a flight to Ireland for a memorable journey to the land of “Riverdance,” C.S.Lewis, Cocanny, Guinness, and legends galore. The course is but a half hour drive outside Dublin and with the flags flying over the crenelated walls of the castle, this promises to be a memorable event.
You can stay at the Castle or you can check into a less pricey place like the Clarion Hotel in Dublin. For luxury in-city digs, the historic Shelbourne Dublin Hotel is the place to be. Dine in the Saddle Room Restaurant then head to Mulligans Pub (www.mulliganspubandrestaurant.com) on Poolbeg Street for a night cap.
And who knows. Keep your eyes peeled. James Bond might just make an appearance. Killeen Castle after all was the scene for the 1966 James Bond movie “Casino Royale.”
Céad Mile Fåilte (100,000 welcomes).
Note: The United States won the 2009 Solheim Cup, 16 to 12, over Europe at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. The U.S. leads the overall competition 8-3, but they are 2-3 when competing on European soil. For more on the Solheim Cup, see www.solheimcup.com.
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Come on Europe - Let's bring home the Cup. Whatever direction the game goes it should be an excellent event this year.