BY NEAL REID
The Solheim Cup has been a mainstay in Maria Hjorth’s career since she joined the Tour in 1998. Losing, unfortunately, has also been a constant for her in the international event.
The Swede was a member of the European Team in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2009 – all losses to the Americans – and so it is with those memories she enters this year’s highly anticipated event Sept. 23-25 at Killeen Castle in County Meath, Ireland.
“Obviously, I would like to be on a winning team sometime,” she said. “I’ve played in four, but unfortunately they’ve been four losses. I think and hope that this year in Ireland we will put up a really good fight and should have a good chance to win. Our team is playing really well right now, and the American girls are playing great too.”
Hjorth will also be looking for her first singles victory, as she owns an 0-3-1 record in the deciding heads-up matches. She is 2-2-3 in four-ball play and 3-2-1 in foursomes matches. The closest she’s come to a win was 2002 and 2005, when the U.S. Team edged her European squad by identical scores of 15½-12½.
The European Team’s four captain’s picks will be crucial in the final outcome of the event.
“It will be interesting to see who Alison (Nicholas) will pick, and it’s important for the captain’s picks to have a good mixture of everything,” Hjorth said.
The chance to play in such a hallowed and respected golf course in front of a raucous and energetic group of fans is something all Solheim players are looking forward to.
“I think also playing in Ireland will be great, and the fans there are amazing,” Hjorth said. “I played in the Irish Ladies Open there, and the crowds are huge and so supportive. Alison’s done a great job touring around Ireland giving clinics and just trying to get more support for us and have more people come out and watch the Solheim. I think we’ll have a great fan base there and a lot of support, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
The fact that this will be Hjorth’s fifth time on the European Team does not diminish the intensity of the event or her reverence for the one-of-a-kind competition.
“Solheim – even if you play in it many times, it’s still just as exciting every time you play in it,” she said. “I can’t wait, and I think it will be really, really good.”