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The Solheim Cup: Top 5 Controversial Moments

Published 09/15/2023, 2:30 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

The most coveted international tournament in the women’s golf circuit, the Solheim Cup, is going to take place from September 22 to September 24 at Finca Cortesin, Spain. Along with that, this is the 18th edition of this prestigious event. 

Now, before the tournament tees off, the golf world eagerly awaits controversy and all the spice mounting up amid the preparations. And as far as the Solheim Cup is concerned, controversy has followed the biennial tournament since its birth. Let’s take a look at some notorious incidents from the competition over the years.

2000: 10x major winner repeated a chip

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One of the most famous controversies in the history of the Solheim Cup dates back to the year, 2000. In that year, Annika Sorenstam had to replay a chip shot under the compulsion of Team USA. She had to redo it even after she holed it, and the reason for the enforcement was stated to be that Sorenstam played out of turn. 

In the four-ball match, the Swedish LPGA golfer was paired up with Janice Moodie, and they were playing against Pat Hurst and Kelly Robbins. Then finally, the USA Solheim Cup captain decided to announce that Sorenstam would replay the shot again. Alas, she couldn’t convert at the next chance, and her patriotic dreams were shattered when Europe lost. 

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A Solheim Cup debacle left Madelene Sagstrom in tears

Madelene Sagstrom was in tears after a fantastic day for Team Europe at the Solheim Cup. The fiasco that led Sagstrom into an emotional breakdown was about a putt on the 13th hole of the first fourball match.

Nelly Korda‘s eagle stopped on the verge of the 13th hole, and her ball was picked up by Sagstrom, leading to a birdie. Ultimately, Korda was credited with the eagle, and the reason behind the decision was that if a ball is impending on the edge of the hole, the player is allowed around 10 seconds to observe the ball’s movement. The debate continued for a while, but ultimately Korda got the point. 

Dottie Pepper’s uncalled broadcast on the mic 

Dottie Pepper got her own motherland wrathful when she addressed the US players as “chokin’ freakin’ dogs” during a match in Sweden. From a source, it was learned that the mishap happened because she thought the broadcasting was on a break, but accidentally the live airing circulated the comment, which got the Americans enraged.

via Imago

Her words became a hot topic in the golf community. In the same week, Pepper sent an email to Golfweek saying, “reacting to what I saw as one who bleeds red, white and blue and a former Solheim Cupper who has gagged a few points away herself in the past. I guess I am guilty as charged with whatever I am being charged with.” She gave this affirmation in her defense. 

Catrin Nilsmark’s harsh remarks get Team USA vexed

Catrin Nilsmark was not a part of the 2002 Solheim Cup, yet her name rang in the locker rooms of Team USA. As the matter was explored further, it was learned that the Sweden-based golfer called Cristie Kerr a “little brat”. It didn’t end there; she even left her opinion about Michele Redman and said that she had “absolutely no talent.”.

Later, during the 2002 Solheim Cup, several European golfers came to US captain Patty Sheehan and apologized on behalf of Nilsmark. In an interview, Sheehan disclosed, “You know, my players, I think initially, felt badly, and they felt like they were being shot at with darts, but I think then as that initial shock wore off, I think we have sort of had fun with it, so not that we need any more motivation to try to win the cup back.” Finally, Team USA gave the correct reply by winning the match.

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2013: Annika Sorenstam convicted of providing counsel

The 2013 Solheim Cup drama intensified when Annika Sorenstam was charged with giving advice on hole 17. According to the captain’s agreement, only captains can give advice. 

As the matter was taken to the USGA, discussions took place, but ultimately she was released as she didn’t infringe any rule. Finally, the tournament was won by Team Europe.

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Now it is time to see what new debates this season’s Solheim Cup will bring. What do you think of the controversies? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by:

Suchita Chakraborty

303Articles

One take at a time

Suchita is a golf writer for EssentiallySports who was chosen in the recent ‘ES Draft’ round for her in-depth coverage and knowledge of the sport. Even as a budding writer, she has captivated readers through her ability to bring the sport to life through her articles, especially when it comes to golf's latest hot topic, the merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. Suchita draws her inspiration from one of the legends in women’s golf, Annika Sorrenstam.
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Edited by:

Sherjeel Malik

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