The Evian Ladies European Tour announced today that the 2004 staging of The Solheim Cup in Europe has been brought forward by one year and will be played at Barsebà¤ck Golf and Country Club near Malmö in Sweden from 12th to 14th September 2003.
With the Ryder Cup matches moving to even numbered years, and after four months of planning and co-operation with the LPGA, the Swedish Golf Federation and Ping golf equipment (sponsor of The Solheim Cup), this positive move has been made to ensure the flagship team event in women’s golf retains its prominent position in the sporting calendar.
“The Solheim Cup is one of the premier golfing events in the world and given the huge public, television and commercial interest it now generates, it is appropriate that the match is not played in the same month as the Ryder Cup,” said Richard Relton, European Director for The Solheim Cup.
“Scheduling events of this stature is always a challenging undertaking for the Tours, not simply from the players’ perspective but also to ensure maximum involvement from the media, TV and sponsors. The move to 2003 and the odd years going forward will help us address all the issues and importantly, we also move away from the Olympic Games and the Euro 2004 football championships.”
“To stage The Solheim Cup in September 2003 will serve as a wonderful opportunity for Sweden to hold the premier ladies team event in golf and launch its Centenary of Golf celebration in 2004,” said John A. Solheim, PING Chairman and CEO. We’re extremely happy that the Swedish Golf Federation and the Evian Ladies European Tour were able to work out the details of this change to the benefit of the players, sponsors and the future of the event in Europe.”
Planning for the next European hosted tournament, sponsored by PING, is taking shape quickly and the Swedish community has responded magnificently to the challenge of hosting this prestigious event. Five major international sponsors, along with significant backing of the majority of major Scandinavian media companies, have already signed up to support the event with a number of other sponsors soon to be announced.
“As you would expect from a country passionate about its sport and especially golf, the Swedes have taken The Solheim Cup to heart,” added Relton. “They are looking not only to make a major success of the tournament itself but leave a legacy for women’s golf in the whole of Scandinavia.
“If past history is anything to go by, we expect a strong contingent of the team to be Swedish and with a number of other young hopefuls from Norway and Denmark also pushing for places in the run up to the event, the Scandinavian element could be stronger than ever.”
The Evian Ladies European Tour is confident that spectator interest for the event will break all records for a ladies golf event. If past events in Sweden and particularly Barseback are a judge, crowds in excess of 100,000 over the week can be expected.
Moreover, in keeping with the two-year qualification countdown for the seven automatic team places, this year’s Evian Tour will carry two sets of rankings for The Solheim Cup, one for the 2002 event at Interlachen Country Club, Edina, Minnesota, USA, and the other for the 2003 event.
“Our qualification procedure will remain the same for The Solheim Cup 2003,” said Ian Randell, Chief Operating Officer of the Evian Ladies European Tour.”This season is the second year of the 2002 rankings and as usual, carries double the amount of points available, and starting with the 2002 ANZ Ladies Masters, players have the opportunity to earn points for The 2003 Solheim Cup.”
The 2003 Solheim Cup will be the eighth event since the original tournament in 1990, when the late Karsten Solheim, founder of PING, (internationally known for innovation and custom-fit, custom built golf equipment) decided that women professional golfers should have an equivalent event to the Ryder Cup.
The three-day event was named after the Solheim family, and took the form of a biennial transatlantic team match play competition between the best players from European members of the Ladies European Tour (LET) and American members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
Evian Ladies European Tour www.eviantour.com