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Friday, August 21, 2009

United States put their big guns out first

in Solheim Cup opening four-balls

The 2009 Solheim Cup gets under way with Europe facing the toughest of starts against American stars Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr.
The USA's top-ranked duo go out first at 8.05am local time against Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson in a match home captain Beth Daniel admits is designed to send out a message of strength at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois.
Angela Stanford and 49-year-old wild card Juli Inkster tee off second against Swedish pairing Helen Alfredsson and Tania Elosegui, the same duo that kicked off the 2007 event.
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Third out are European talisman Laura Davies, who could overtake Annika Sorenstam as Europe's top points scorer this weekend, and Wales' Becky Brewerton in their match against Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome.
There will be plenty of interest in the fourth match too, with US wild-card pick Michelle Wie teaming up with Morgan Pressel amid rumours of friction between the two in the past. They face Wales' second representative, Catriona Matthew, who pairs with Swede Maria Hjorth.
Upon revealing her four-ball pairings, USA captain Beth Daniel said: "When you consider we have the number one and number two in America going out in the first match you can see we're trying to make a statement, but they have some tough opponents.
"I think the pairings are pretty even and I don't think any match has an obvious advantage. The Davies and Brewerton partnership is pretty much a no-brainer after they played together in 2007 and we've got four very good matches."
Asked about her decision to pair rookie Wie with Pressel, Daniel brushed aside talk of a rift.
"They're sharing a lodge this week and they've been very good friends for a while. They told me they would like to play together and I think Morgan will be good for Michelle."

European skipper Alison Nicholas revealed that her pairings had been relatively simple to resolve.
"A lot of the girls wanted to play together and they told me that so that's pretty much how we did it," she said.
"The team spirit is fantastic and the girls are really up for it. We're intent to go and get as many birdies as possible.
"There's going to be some fantastic matches, it's so exciting and there is going to be fireworks."
Players not involved in Saturday's opening matches are Gwladys Nocera, Diana Luna, Janice Moodie and Anna Nordqvist from Europe and Kristy McPherson, Nicole Castrale, Christina Kim and Natalie Gulbis for the hosts.
Saturday's fourballs are followed by four afternoon foursomes.
Day One four-ball pairings:
Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr v Suzann Pettersen (Nor) and Sophie Gustafson (Swe).
Angela Stanford and Juli Inkster v Helen Alfredsson (Swe) and Tania Elosegui (Swe).
Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome v Laura Davies (Eng) and Becky Brewerton (Wal).
Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie v Catriona Matthew (Wal) and Maria Hjorth (Swe).