A lot goes into making a Solheim Cup captain’s pick, much more than the average fan might realize. Recent form must be considered as well as past experience in team competitions. How a player’s personality fits in with the rest of the group certainly matters and so does compatibility with potential playing partners because it helps to have team members that can play with everyone. For Pettersen, being unable to see a lot of the Euros compete this season has been a challenge, but she’s definitely keeping an eye on those who have been at the top of leaderboards lately that are not already qualified.
“I haven't been to too many events,” said Pettersen, who represented Norway in nine Solheim Cups throughout her professional career. “I think it's nice to catch up in person. A lot of these players, I've always been in touch with all of them over the last year or so. But it's always nice to be there in person. And I'll be at every event leading up to our team announcements. So hopefully, I'll be able to kind of brainstorm a little bit with everyone.”
As it stands right now, eight players are currently qualified via either the LET Solheim Cup points standings or their position in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Frenchwoman Celine Boutier and Sweden’s Maja Stark are currently holding the top two spots in points while Charley Hull, Leona Maguire, Georgia Hall, Linn Grant, Carlota Ciganda and assistant captain Anna Nordqvist are qualified because of their world ranking. It’s an impressive list that features three 2023 LPGA Tour winners as well as three major champions. Only two of the eight, Grant and Stark, will be Solheim Cup rookies, but the latter gained invaluable team-play experience earlier this season at the Hanwha LIFEPLUS International Crown so she’s not as green as she could be.
But where does that leave Pettersen when it comes to picks? Is she looking at someone like Gemma Dryburgh, who won late last year at the TOTO Japan Classic, just recorded her career-best finish in a major at The Amundi Evian Championship and is as calm, cool and collected as they come? Or is she thinking about Madelene Sagstrom, who was impressive at TPC Harding Park and has past Solheim Cup experience, but hasn’t been playing her best this season? Who else is she considering?
But if there’s anyone that understands the difference between a solid stroke-play player and an impressive match-play competitor, it’s Pettersen so as much as she’s learned about her potential team members throughout their last four events, she knows that sometimes, the final scores posted don’t always tell you everything.
“If I go to look at players, if they make a birdie or bogey, that's not really what I'm looking for,” she said. “I went to a couple of holes at the GLBI Dow event and some of the players went like bogey-bogey-bogey and I thought to myself, ‘What the heck am I doing out here? Great influence.’ But at the end of the day, that's not what I'm looking for.
“I'm looking for dynamics. I'm looking for camaraderie, obviously, but I'm looking for form. You want players playing well. You want the team to be as strong as possible. Our core qualified players are really playing well. S I don't know if it makes it any easier, but it gives us a little bit of room to kind of wiggle either way. At the end of the day, you want players playing well qualifying for the team.”Luckily for Pettersen, she has plenty of people from which to choose. And while it’s been a tall order to sort out, it’s a challenge that an experienced Solheim Cup veteran like Pettersen has relished as she puts the finishing touches on what she hopes will be a winning European Solheim Cup team.