At the season opening Women’s World Cup of Golf, Alfredsson, a winner of 19 titles worldwide in a career spanning 16 years, told how she will be channelling all of her energy into winning back The Solheim Cup this year and how she sees her own playing career as secondary to captaining the European side.
“To be captain of The Solheim Cup is such a great honour and that’s why I took a lot of time off last year to see the sponsors and meetings and all that stuff. I want to be as good as possible,” she said, admitting that during her seven appearances as a player she had been known to be uncooperative on occasions.
“As a player you are so spoiled. You just show up and it’s a struggle to even try the clothes on. I was the worst for that, I never showed up for that. I was like, ‘Okay, it doesn’t matter, it will work.’ But when I see it from the organisational side I think, ‘How could I have been so uncooperative?’”
Alfredsson will be keeping a close eye on all of the potential team members this year and would not rule out selecting a rookie.
“I would like to be open and I know we are in a generational shift right now. It was once the first time for me too. I think if you have a chance to put a rookie in when there are a lot of veterans then they have a good chance to be a part of it and it doesn’t become such a huge gap the following year,” she said.
Alfredsson will be counting on World no.1 and leading Solheim Cup points earner Annika Sorenstam to lead her side by example, while Gwladys Nocera, who tops the European Solheim Cup rankings and Laura Davies, the European no.1, are also likely to make the team.
Suzann Pettersen, Becky Brewerton, Carin Koch and Riikka Hakkarainen were highlighted as potential team members by the European skipper, who added that she would consider attempting to change the qualifying criteria to permit Janice Moodie to play if she had an exceptional season.
Current regulations state that European born players must play in a minimum of six Ladies European Tour events over a two year period to qualify for the team. As Moodie took most of last season off on maternity leave, she has asked Alfredsson if she may receive a medical extension.
Moodie said, “I don’t feel as though I can get the six mandatory events in and I’m not going to push it. If they have some sort of medical extension that that would be great and I think I would be able to be in but at the moment I don’t think they have.”
Alfredsson added, “I don’t think that it’s impossible at least to give her a chance. You know if she really plays well and she is in great form it would be sad not to be able to pick her. She might not get in on the lists. If it benefits Europe then we should all be for it, particularly with babies or an injury. If someone comes flying that year and they haven’t had a chance to earn points the year prior to that then I think we need to look into it very soon.”
Alexandra Armas, executive director of the Ladies European Tour, confirmed that that the situation is under review. “Helen has asked The Solheim Cup Committee to consider the maternity medical exemption to apply. This will be reviewed and discussed over the coming months,” she said.
Alfredsson gave her opinions on Europe’s Ryder Cup success and suggested that there were key similarities between the men’s European side and women’s. “They win it because they love it. They are also individualists. You see interviews with Sergio and he’s very much an individualist but he loves the Ryder Cup and they have fun together. I think The Solheim Cup is all about having fun. You can have so much fun as a team and being silly with each other. We grew up playing as a team and it’s always been our strength playing as a team. I hope it stays that way,” she commented.
“You can see a trend with the younger players that they surround themselves with a lot of coaches and it’s about them, them, them. I think the American guys are a little bit like that, so they are not used to having to draw from anybody else whereas we enjoy being together.”
Commenting on the differences between herself and Sorenstam, Alfredsson said, “She is all about breaking records. She still hasn’t given up on winning all four majors (in a season) and that’s where she is. I have more need of feeling stimulated by having fun and doing different things.”
Alfredsson will no doubt be an outspoken captain, but her sense of fun and enormous energy will be a huge asset to her team at The Solheim Cup at Halmstad Golfklubb, Sweden, in September. As one of Europe’s key players, Sorenstam’s experience and achievements will be an inspiration to her team mates. It would seem that both Swedes, who will be on home territory for the tenth edition of the matches, are ideally suited to their pivotal Solheim Cup roles.
The Solheim Cup www.solheimcup.se