WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Annika Sorenstam showed the resolve that made her one of the toughest champions who ever played the game at the end of a tough afternoon Friday at the Solheim Cup.
The fight that drove Sorenstam to win more LPGA titles (72) than anyone besides Kathy Whitworth (88) and Mickey Wright (82) was there at day’s end, along with some unexpected but inspiring good humor.
With the Americans sweeping Europe in fourballs, the first American sweep of a session in Solheim Cup history, Sorenstam talked about tearing up her plans and improvising a new plah to bring a hard fight to the Americans on Saturday.
Europe is down 5½ to 2½, the largest deficit they’ve faced after Day 1 in 19 years.
“It’s a marathon,” Sorenstam said. “I would say that the spirit is still there, if not stronger. You get a little fired up when you see an afternoon like this.”
Sorenstam was asked, with all her experience, what she can dig down deep to find to offer her players in this situation.
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“I won tournaments after 72 holes, not after 27,” Sorenstam said. “You’ve got to stay in there the whole time.
“We knew coming in here it was going to be a challenge, and I have fighters on the team. I believe in them. So we’re just going to forget about this day. Tomorrow’s Saturday. New points. Go out there and grab as many as we can.”
Sorenstam said Friday afternoon’s extreme turn of events has caused her to scrape together a new plan, because there are challenges beyond the score.
Charley Hull aggravated her injured wrist, something she has battled on and off all year. She hurt it hitting a shot at the seventh hole in the morning.
“I saw her in the lunch room [before foursomes],” Sorenstam said. “She was icing her wrist. I said. `You’re going out in 20 minutes, are you OK?’ She goes, `I’m fine.’”
But Sorenstam will make Hull rest Saturday morning. Plus, she’s benching Carlota Ciganda on Saturday morning. She’s one of Sorenstam’s top players, but Ciganda struggled in both foursomes and fourballs on Friday.
“That was not a plan,” Sorenstam said. “But she’s not performing. So I told her, we are making some changes. People that are playing well are stepping up.
“So there’s a lot of things happening out there. A lot of juggling.”
Sorenstam sounded eager to see what kind of fight her team is still ready to give.
“That’s the role of a captain,” Sorenstam said. “You have to give them the confidence. What they see is what they think I am. And I want to give them all the encouragement and the comfort.”