Nelly Korda will bid to crown a breakthrough season by helping the United States reclaim the Solheim Cup when the 17th edition of the biennial showdown with Europe tees off in Ohio on Saturday.
The world No 1 has been in superb form this year, winning three LPGA Tour events, including a first Major championship, as well as a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Now the 23-year-old hopes to add a US victory in the Solheim Cup to her list of achievements when the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup gets under way at Toledo’s Inverness Club.
Korda leads a star-studded US team seeking to win back the Solheim crown after suffering a nail-biting 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 defeat by Europe at Gleneagles in Scotland two years ago.
Europe – whose team includes only one player in the world’s top 20, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist – are attempting to win the title on US soil for only the second time in the tournament’s history following victory at Colorado Golf Club in 2013.
Korda formed a dominant partnership with older sister Jessica at the 2019 tournament, combining with her sibling to win seven of the USA’s 13 1/2 points. She says she is unburdened by the pressure to deliver which comes with her status as world No 1.
“I try not to think about it,” Korda said. “There’s definitely a lot of people that try to put it in my head, for sure, but I am pretty easygoing.
“I just try to fly under the radar and do my thing, be prepared as best I possibly can and have fun, hopefully put up some points.”
Both the Korda sisters have been grouped in a four-player ‘pod’ by USA captain Pat Hurst, who is using the same system first deployed successfully by Paul Azinger in the Ryder Cup in 2008. Meghan Khang and Ally Ewing complete the group.
Nelly Korda says despite home advantage, she sees the American women as slight underdogs following their defeat two years ago.
“In a sense, I feel like we’re underdogs, because they’re the ones defending,” Korda said. “I think all of us are just embracing this moment and we’re ready for Saturday.”
Europe captain Catriona Matthew says history underscores the scale of the task faced by her team.
And winning on American soil is made even more challenging this year due to the fact that many European fans will be unable to travel to the US due to the pandemic.
“I think the fact we have only won once shows how difficult it is to win away from home,” Matthew said. “This year it is going to be more difficult and be more of a challenge for us, but I think in a way we can nearly rise to that.
“We’re kind of really expecting basically about zero fans … it certainly won’t be the same presence that we normally have at an away match.
“But I think the players are going to be mentally prepared. It just gives them another challenge and another thing to try and overcome and get that victory.”
Play starts on Saturday with four morning foursomes before four afternoon fourball matches.
The same schedule takes place on Sunday, before the concluding 12 singles matches on Monday.
© Agence France-Presse