Sep 04, 2019: In the 29-year history of the Solheim Cup, 114 players will have held the honor of competing for Team Europe and Team USA after next week’s event in Scotland. Only four have been siblings.
And, to date, no sisters have ever been paired together in the fourball or foursomes portion of the matches.
“No one has ever done that before? Not even Charlotta and Annika? They didn’t want to play together?” Jessica Korda asked LPGA.com when brought up that, should U.S. Captain Juli Inkster follow through with her promise, the Korda sisters will be the first siblings to ever play together in a Solheim Cup.
The answer is: no, they didn’t. In 1998, Charlotta Sorenstam was a captain’s pick of Pia Nilsson, joined by Annika who made the team on points. Both Sorenstams were in the primes of their careers, with Charlotta rattling off her 10th top-15 finish of the ’98 season at the SAFECO Classic, the tournament held right before the Solheim Cup. Annika won the tournament, her fourth win in eight starts.
“I was very excited of course. Not just to be part of the team, but to have a family member as well. It was like a bonus bonus,” Charlotta explained when she realized she’d play alongside Annika in Ohio.
It was a goal of the sisters to play on the team together, which they discussed over the course of that year.
It wasn’t for lack of opportunities that they didn’t play together. The Sorenstams competed in seven matches over the opening two days. Annika played with Catriona Matthew twice and Catrin Nilsmark once. Charlotta played with Laura Davies twice and Liselotte Neumann once.
Like two sides of the same coin, the sisters were happy to be together but had differing views of the notion of playing together. Charlotta was hopeful to compete alongside her sister, while Annika wasn’t enamored with the idea.
“She hits it low, in the middle of the fairway, and the green. All you have to do is putt,” Charlotta explained.
Based on how well the pair were playing coming into the event, Nilsson kept the pair separated. Selfishly, Charlotta would’ve loved the opportunity.
“I think I would’ve won more matches,” Charlotta said. “I wouldn’t have to worry about anything.”
Annika appreciated the space from her younger sister, laughing when explaining why.
“Well you’re still siblings, you respect each other, you love each other, but then I think it would be tough under such a precious moment to play with each other,” she said. “Sometimes you’re too close.”
The Sorenstams recognize the history they made together. It’s a high point in Annika’s career. Annika reflected on what it would’ve meant for the siblings to tee it up together.
“You think about the kids, and being a role model in the positions we’re in, for other siblings to see that, I think that would’ve been inspiring for others,” Annika opined.
It’s a torch that Jessica and Nelly Korda can’t wait to take up.
“Whenever you make history it’s a special feeling,” Nelly said. “It was kind of our goal after 2017 that we were both going to make it. We were just really excited.”
“I don’t know what it’d be like to not play with Nelly,” Jessica added. “It’d be really awkward. We’re really excited to be paired together. There’s no one who knows my game better. I feel like we don’t run out of things to talk about, she can calm me down and I can calm her down. It’ll be the yin to the yang.” .
Any concerns they might have had about pairing up in competition were alleviated when they teamed up in the DOW Great Lakes Bay Invitational.
“At the end of the day, you want to have as much fun as possible and be there for your teammate and read them as well as you can without it being said,” Jessica said. “I think that’s a huge advantage and something that Nelly and I have which we saw at the DOW. I think we played together once or three times together ever,.
The sisters, going by Team Jelly in Michigan, carded a final-round 62 in the four-ball format.
“We both have a really consistent and similar game. I think we figured out a really good way together,” Nelly explained.
It’s a pairing that the Sorenstams would enjoy seeing.
“Somebody’s got to (be the first sibling Solheim paring), right? Perfect to pair (Nelly) up with her sister (who has been) there before, and a sibling. That would be a smart move, to have rookies and experienced players (together),” Charlotta said.
“I think it’s very cool they want to do that, they think that they’d be a strong team together, want to share a fairway together,” Annika said. “That’s really cool, it really is.”