U.S. pods based largely on personality - and ‘fun’ - at Solheim Cup
TOLEDO, Ohio – With a smirk, Pat Hurst admitted the obvious: “Yeah, of course you can tell if they’re coming in fours, what the pods will be.”
The U.S. Solheim captain didn’t want to reveal too much on Wednesday at Inverness Club, but the interview sheet was pretty clear: three groups with four Americans each, meeting the media in the three days leading up to the start of the competition.
Up first was the foursome of Jessica Korda, Nelly Korda, Megan Khang and Ally Ewing. Assistant captain Stacy Lewis is overseeing that squad, known as “Chesnee’s girls,” according to Jessica Korda – a reference to Lewis’ daughter’s name.
The second pod consists of Austin Ernst, Danielle Kang, Jennifer Kupcho and Lizette Salas. Their nickname? Well, they don’t speak until Thursday. Assistant captain Angela Stanford is in tow with them.
On Friday, ahead of the opening ceremony, it’s Brittany Altomare, Mina Harigae, Yealimi Noh and Lexi Thompson. Michelle Wie is the assigned assistant.
Hurst said earlier this year that she planned to administer a personality test to match players within pods. She was true to her word and said on Wednesday that those results heavily influenced her groupings.
“We did a behavior profile and basically went with that and, I mean, that’s basically how we put the pods together, for the most part, that’s probably 75 percent of it,” she said while flanked by her three assistants.
As for who might play with whom, Hurst wasn’t as forthcoming. The same can be said for European captain Catriona Matthew, who was equally tight-lipped.
The Euros are spreading their players out a little more, sending four groups of three into the media center.
- Wednesday: Anna Nordqvist, Madelene Sagstrom, Matilda Castren
- Thursday: Leona Maguire, Charley Hull, Mel Reid
- Thursday: Carlota Ciganda, Emily Pedersen, Nanna Koerstz Madsen
- Friday: Sophia Popov, Celine Boutier, Georgia Hall
Make of that what you will, implied Matthew.
“I think we have got a pretty good idea of what we’re looking at,” she said on Wednesday. “Not going to give any away, though.”
On the U.S. side, there is still that 25% of pod formation based on game and experience.
In Pod 1, Jessica and Nelly Korda went 2-0 together in the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles. Ewing and Khang both competed in Scotland as well, but didn’t pair with anyone in their current group. Ewing with 0-1 with Salas. Khang went 0-1 with Kang.
In Pod 2, Kupcho is a rookie and Ernst played three times with Paula Creamer in 2017. Kang and Salas, meanwhile, have gone 2-1 when paired. It’s the only winning record either of them have with a Solheim Cup partner.
And in Pod 3, Harigae and Noh are rookies. Altomare played with three different people in ’19, including with Thompson in a loss. Thompson has a career 5-4-6 record in the competition, but is 4-0-2 with Cristie Kerr and 1-4-4 with others.
Ultimately, however, Hurst wasn’t concerned with the past or matching players with the same golf balls or complimentary game types. She was focused, primarily, on one thing: Enjoyment.
“It’s just the comfort level of us. We’re pretty even keeled,” Jessica Korda said about her pod. “During practice rounds we all like to have fun. There’s not really necessarily a quiet one between us. So, yeah, I would say that we’re very similar personalities, and it’s a fun pod.”