Solheim betting guide
Matt Cooper picks out the best bets in this week's Solheim Cup showdown between the US and Europe
Last Updated: August 13, 2013 6:14pm
Inside the clubhouse at Colorado GC
Prior to the last match at Killeen Castle, Dublin in 2011 there were some voices mumbling that the Solheim Cup was in need of a re-think.
The Europeans were struggling to compete and the argument ran that Asian involvement would pep things up. Oddly the suggestion was that Europe join forces with Asia to take on America, a situation that would probably have created an even more lopsided contest.
But the debate became moot when the Europeans swept history and the doubters aside to claim victory and reignite the Solheim Cup as a contest in a manner reminiscent of the 1985 European Ryder Cup victory.
In the two years since that match the personnel on both teams has changed considerably and a number of questions need answering.
Can Europe do what the European Ryder Cup team did in 1987 and follow-up a superb home win with an unprecedented victory on American soil? Or will the home team, traditionally fired up by patriotic galleries, reclaim the glass vase?
Last time (2011)
Europe won the Cup for the first time since 2003 in arguably the greatest finale the event has ever seen. For two days the tone of the match was simple: Europe consistently found an early advantage but equally consistently failed to capitalise as American tenacity and home nerves kicked in.
Going into the final day singles the match was tied at eight points apiece before Europe once more gained an early lead. But yet again they looked to be losing it until Norway's Suzann Pettersen inspired a magnificent late fightback which clinched victory.
Suzann Pettersen celebrates on the 18th green with Laura Davies in 2011
The Americans don't dominate the Solheim Cup in quite the way they did the Ryder Cup prior to the mid-1980s, but they still hold all the historical aces. They've won eight matches to Europe's four and in the States they are undefeated (Europe's best performances were three point defeats in 2002 and 2005).
The last match held on American soil, at Rich Harvest Farms, Illinois in 2009, does offer hope for the Europeans however - they were odds-on favourites midway through the singles matches only to succumb as history and American pride overwhelmed them.
Colorado Golf Club
Colorado G.C. is just outside Denver and the layout is a Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw design (the team behind the Plantation course in Hawaii which hosts the PGA Tour's Champions event). Reports from the teams, who have both visited the venue, suggest the holes have wide fairways and will reward aggressive golf. The backdrops are spectacular - prairie and mountain tops, real frontier stuff. Another factor is altitude - Denver is known as the Mile High City which means the ball flies 10% further than normal.
The 2013 US Solheim Cup team pose on the Swilcan Bridge
The team falls into three distinct groups. At the top are experienced Solheim Cup stars Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel, plus the world number two and recent Ricoh Women's British Open champion Stacy Lewis. There are then four LPGA veterans whose Solheim record is not especially good (Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang) plus an out of form Michelle Wie. The team is completed by four rookies - the youngsters Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson, plus the Symetra Tour graduates Lizette Salas and Gerina Piller.
The 2013 European Solheim Cup team on the Swilcan Bridge.
The visitors probably fall into four categories. Suzann Pettersen and Catriona Matthew are out alone, with plenty of experience and remarkably similar records - both have six caps, have played 25 times and both win about 60% of their points. Pettersen is dynamic, Matthew succeeds with stealth.
They are joined by just four players who have previous experience of the match - Anna Nordqvist, Caroline Hedwall, Azahara Munoz and Karine Icher. There are then five rookies with some tour experience (Beatriz Recari, Carlota Ciganda, Caroline Masson, Giulia Sergas and Jodi Ewart Shadoff) and finally 17-year-old Charley Hull, who has, remarkably, played just nine times as a professional.
Europe are a best price of 3/1 with Sky Bet and on first glance it seems about right, given such a poor historical record. You also have to wonder if a team with so many rookies can cope with the noise and intimidation factor of a enthusiastic American crowd. Nor do four of Europe's "experienced" players actually have much experience (just five starts between them).
Here's something though - in the 12 matches Europe has led going into the final day singles six times and been tied on four occasions. The U.S.A. team has not led since 1998, and before that in the very first match in 1990. The two teams are also very closely aligned on world rankings and individual form in 2013.
History would suggest the Americans will win, but it also suggests that the Europeans will trade lower than 3/1 at some point in the first two days.
Top American points scorer
Paula Creamer (9/2): Quite simply the 26-year-old is the supreme Solheim Cup performer. Her passion and desire is something to behold. In 19 matches she has been defeated just three times and won 11 matches. Not the favourite in this market but perhaps should be.
Paula Creamer: Loves the Solheim Cup
Morgan Pressel (10/1): In her 11 matches she has won seven times and lost just twice for a points percentage of 73% which just edges Creamer. She won all four matches she played in 2011 and is undefeated in three singles matches. Fourth in the recent Ricoh Women's British Open.
Cristie Kerr (6/1): A veteran of six Solheim Cups who has under-performed in the event. Her singles record is poor (one win in six attempts) and her foursome and fourball record bolstered by a good return when she plays with Paula Creamer.
Stacy Lewis (4/1): It would be a surprise if Lewis plays as poorly as she did on debut in 2011, when she reaped just one point from four. Now a two-time major winner and the 2012 LPGA Player of the Year.
Michelle Wie (16/1): Needed a captain's pick after a run of terrible form and a putting stroke that invites everything from puzzlement to derision. Had a fine debut in 2009 and actually played magnificently to force Suzann Pettersen to perform miracles in 2011.
Angela Stanford (8/1): The LPGA veteran has a very poor Solheim record with just three wins in 13 matches.
The rest of the team is made up of the two Brittanys (Lang and Lincicome) who have ordinary records and the four rookies
Top European points scorer
Suzann Pettersen (7/2): The obvious favourite. One thing to note: in 2009 she looked to be struggling with a team that demanded her leadership. In 2011 she said she thought the team was the strongest she had played on and thrived with that knowledge. Does she believe in this team? It might hold the key to her performance.
Catriona Matthew (9/2): Quieter than Pettersen but no less effective. In contrast to the Norwegian Matthew makes more points in the singles matches (she's won five of six).
Catriona Matthew: Great Ryder Cup record
Caroline Hedwall (16/1): Superb in 2011, but made two of her points in partnership with Sophie Gustafson, who isn't playing, and has struggled for form in recent weeks.
Beatriz Recari (10/1): The Spanish debutant is a two-time winner on the LPGA this year and is known as the Ironwoman for her ability to make the cut week after week. A very deceptive player - looks frail, does little that is dynamic, but is mentally as tough as they come.
Azahara Munoz (10/1): The Spanish player was magnificent in 2011 on debut and rubber-stamped her love of head-to-head with victory in the Sybase Matchplay last May. She's lost form since, but loves the format and found a good partnership with Catriona Matthew in the foursomes in 2011.
Carlota Ciganda (14/1): Possibly the dark horse? She is good friends with Azahara Munoz so might form a Spanish alliance and she has a very attacking game which will be well-suited to fourballs. The wide fairways will suit her game.
If they get off to a fine start on Friday, and so demand inclusion as the week goes on, one of the other team members may play enough matches to figure as a top points scorer, but it's tough to predict which one.
Looking at the Top American market the stats are just too damning for many of the American players (even though they have all tended to perform better at home) and the rookies are hard to call therefore Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel look solid options.
Both are likely to feature early (captain Meg Mallon is on record as liking proven Solheim form) and given their records you'd expect them to play four times each.
Morgan Pressel: Has won 7 or her previous 11 Solheim Cup matches
Creamer's intensity for the Solheim Cup is such that you cannot see her thriving again and Pressel's price looks wrong given the poor record of almost every other experienced player on the team.
Creamer is the more likely to play five times (she had done so three times out of four in the past) so take her in the event points market and take advantage of the 10/1 on offer for Pressel in the American market.
For the Europeans the equation looks a little less sure.
Alison Nicholas didn't play any of her golfers more than four times in 2011 and with good reason - history proves that European players who play five times struggle to perform in the singles.
If Lotte Neumann follows suit that brings more players into the reckoning for Top Euro, but it's worth bearing in mind that European rookies in the States traditionally struggle (only four of 25 have scored two points and none more than that).
Munoz and Hedwall had good debuts in 2011 and are tempting, but the lack of form for both is a worry.
Ultimately Catriona Matthew's consistency wins out: she got one point on debut but since then has only once not made at least 2.5 points (and even then she made two).
As far as the result goes, the traditional difficulties of the European rookies in America is a bigger worry than history, not least because two of the "experienced" players (Munoz and Hedwall) will be new to a Solheim Cup in the States and a third (Icher) made her debut way back in 2002.
Against that, may of those struggling rookies were LET-based professional rather than many of this crop who have more familiarity with American crowds.
The American team is not one the Europeans should fear, but winners of the Solheim Cup tend to need three individuals to collect big hauls and if one of Matthew or Pettersen have a bad week which two would pull off a miracle?
When Creamer and Pressel are on a roll they are a tough proposition and they could easily steamroller some of the less experienced Europeans so the match-ups - unpredictable as they are - will be crucial.
3/1 is too big a price but is a trading option rather than an outright tip. Go for the player markets instead.
1pt e.w. Morgan Pressel Top American 10/1
1pt e.w. Catriona Matthew Top European 9/2
1pt e.w. Paula Creamer Top event points scorer 8/1
Each way terms are ¼ odds 1,2,3.