Friday, July 19, 2024

Solheim Cup 2024: Team Europe’s stars ready to challenge for major victory at KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

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Dame Laura Davies has hailed the strength of European golf heading into a busy major stretch and has backed Linn Grant to impress at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The women’s major season continues this week at Sahalee Country Club, live on Sky Sports, where players can enhance their Olympics and Solheim Cup qualification hopes with a strong performance.

Linnea Strom has the only European victory on the LPGA Tour this season, although Dame Laura Davies – a two-time winner of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – insists there are several of Europe’s Solheim Cup contingent can challenge for major victory.

“Obviously winning’s a huge of part of confidence for the girls, but we [Europe] have had players playing very nicely on the LPGA tour and some of the younger ones that are playing in the Ladies European Tour,” Davies told Sky Sports.

“Although winning breeds winning, you can’t worry too much because Nelly Korda has been on such a roll for much of this year. There weren’t winners from any other nationality apart from Korda, who won six in quick succession and didn’t leave a lot for the others!

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We take a look back at World No 1 Nelly Korda’s incredible season so far, as she bids for her first US Women’s Open title in Pennsylvania this week

“If Korda turns up how she has done before these two missed cuts, then I’ll put her and Linn Grant going down the stretch on Sunday. It’s about time Linn made that step and got to the next level because I think she could potentially be the world No 1 one day. “

Anna Nordqvist, Georgia Hall, Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Carlota Ciganda all head into the week off the back of top-20 finishes at the Meijer LPGA Classic, with Davies impressed by the quality of European players competing on the LPGA Tour.

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Carlota Ciganda produced some scintillating golf on 16 and 17 to beat Nelly Korda in the Solheim Cup singles last September to claim the point needed for Europe to retain the trophy

“There are so many good European players right now,” Davies said. “Charley Hull is probably our most gifted player and Maja Stark is really impressing, having a really good run in the Chevron Championship earlier this year.

“Grant just won the Scandinavian Mixed over in Sweden and you can never count of her out when looking at major contenders. Alexandra Forsterling is one who could force her way in if she keeps on the same trajectory, because she has played some unbelievably good golf tournaments.

“Leona Maguire is one of the best players we’ve got in the European team, certainly with match play, but she should win more than she does and you would feel she could have a great chance – on a tough course.”

Leona Maguire follows her shot on the fourth green during the first round of the Chevron Championship
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Could Leona Maguire claim a maiden major victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship?

What else is at stake this week?

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is the final chance to earn qualification points for the women’s golf competition at the Paris Olympics, with it also one of three majors left in the race to feature in the Solheim Cup this September.

Suzann Pettersen’s European team will be made up of the top two in the European points list and the next six players in the world rankings, along with four captain’s picks, with the full line-up confirmed after the AIG Women’s Open in August.

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Suzann Pettersen reflects on Team Europe’s continued Solheim Cup dominance and the dramatic draw in Spain

“The world rankings are a little bit volatile because there are lots of majors coming up in the women’s game in a short space of time,” Davies explained. “You can get [qualification] huge points and you can go rocketing through the world ranking.

“If you win a major, you’re going to get huge world ranking points and you could easily jump ahead of three, four, or five players. If you’re on the bubble of getting in – someone just outside the top 100 – and you win that tournament, then you could vault into those Solheim Cup positions.”

Solheim Cup on the mind for Team Europe?

Pettersen’s side claimed back-to-back Solheim Cup victories in 2019 and 2021 before retaining the trophy with a dramatic 14-14 tie in Spain last September, with Davies excited by how Team Europe’s side is shaping up for this year’s contest.

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The best of the action from day three of the 2023 Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin in Spain, where Team Europe retained the trophy

“We just had a get-together a few weeks ago at the venue and about 10 or 11 players turned up, which was impressive because it’s obviously a busy time for them,” Davies said. “I don’t think the team is going to be a massive difference from last time, maybe a couple in and a couple out.

“A lot of the girls are playing well right now. It’s a long golf course and we’ve got quite a long-hitting team. I has held all sorts of tournaments and is a long, rolling golf course where length is a massive advantage, so I think we like it!


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“Depth-wise is good and we’re probably going have to leave a couple of really good players out. That’s not good for them because obviously they’re terrific players and they’ve had good seasons, but it’s a nice problem for Suzann to have. It’s shaping up well.

“Team USA have got a lot of superb players, but not all of their best players are in the best position at the moment. In my mind, If I drew up the 12 that I think we’ll get in at this stage – and it will change closer to it – I think we’ve definitely got a team that can win on and away soil.”

Watch the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 9pm via the red button and 11pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the LPGA Tour, majors and more with NOW.

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