The Ladies European Tour has announced that England’s Alison Nicholas will captain The 2009 European Solheim Cup Team at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois, USA, from 17-23 August 2009.
Under her leadership, the 12 best European born players from the Ladies European Tour will attempt to win The Cup for the first time on US soil.
“It’s a great honour to be The Solheim Cup Captain and I’m delighted,” said Nicholas, who takes over from this year’s captain Helen Alfredsson.
“I can’t wait – it’s fantastic. I’m really excited and very passionate about it. I love The Solheim Cup. It’s a magnificent competition and something that I always look forward to. I always enjoyed playing and I enjoyed the last four events though I wasn’t playing. It’s been a very special part of my golfing career.”
Nicholas brings extraordinary experience and character to the team. The 45-year-old from Birmingham represented Europe on six consecutive occasions from 1990 as a player. She was involved in all three of Europe’s victories, as a player in 1992 and 2000 and as Vice Captain to Catrin Nilsmark in 2003. She was also Vice Captain in 2005.
As a Solheim Cup competitor, Nicholas owns a 7-8-3 record, scoring 8 Â½ points for Europe. She formed a formidable partnership with Laura Davies in the event, with whom she played nine doubles matches altogether.
During her 20 year career, Nicholas amassed 18 victories around the world and retired from competitive golf in 2004. Her proudest moment came in 1997, when she won the US Women’s Open, beating the legendary Nancy Lopez at Pumpkin Ridge. That year, Nicholas also won the European order of merit and was awarded the MBE for services to golf by Her Majesty the Queen in the birthday honours list.
“Alison Nicholas is a great choice for Captain of the 2009 Solheim Cup Team for the LET,” said John A. Solheim, chairman and CEO of PING, Inc. “She is a fierce competitor whose leadership will really inspire the European Team. We are delighted Alison was selected as she is a very special person who will bring a lot to The 2009 Solheim Cup.”
Karen Lunn, chairman of The Ladies European Tour and The European Solheim Cup committee, added, “Alison has all the credentials we were looking for in a captain and thoroughly deserves this opportunity.
“She has played in six Solheim Cups and has been vice captain on two other occasions. I am not sure that there is anyone that is as passionate about The Solheim Cup as Ali.
“Her record as a player in The Solheim Cup was outstanding, and as vice captain she provided valuable assistance and support to Catrin Nilsmark at Barseback in 2003 and at Crooked Stick in 2005. She is also a life member of the LET and has been a great supporter of the tour over many years.
“Alison fully understands the difficulty of the task that lies ahead in going onto US soil to get The Solheim Cup back. Her credentials in the US, especially her US Women’s Open victory in 1997 against Nancy Lopez, who had 20,000 plus fans supporting her in Portland that day, shows that she has the grit and ability to win in these circumstances against the odds. Ali is no doubt the perfect choice to captain the European team to victory in the USA in 2009.”
Looking ahead to the 11th Solheim Cup clash at Rich Harvest Farms, Nicholas added, “We face a big challenge but I don’t believe that anything is impossible. I want to enjoy the whole experience and to have fun with my team. I want to help them to be the best that they can be.”
Only 4’10” in her spikes, “Big Al” as she is known, was born in Gibraltar in 1962. She grew up in Sheffield, England, and has resided in Birmingham since 1988. She currently teaches at the Alison Nicholas Golf Academy in Birmingham and is training to become a PGA Professional.
Speaking from Japan, Davies, the only player to have competed in every Solheim Cup, said, “It’s the only possible choice they could’ve made. No one deserves it more than Big Al.”
Sponsored by PING golf equipment, The Solheim Cup is named in honour of the company’s founder, Karsten Solheim, and his family. The Solheim Cup is the most prestigious team event in women’s professional golf. It is a biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition featuring the best 12 European-born players from the Ladies European Tour and the best 12 U.S.-born players from the LPGA Tour. Following a 16 to 12 victory at The 2007 Solheim Cup in Halmstad, Sweden, the U.S. Team leads the competition, 7-3, and has never lost on home soil.
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