2015 row behind us but fans will bring it up: Sorenstam

LONDON • Annika Sorenstam has admitted she expects hostility from an American crowd towards Suzann Pettersen at golf's Solheim Cup next year but Europe's new captain hopes to divert the narrative away from the controversy of 2015.

The retired Swedish great was confirmed in her post in California on Wednesday and Europe will look to claim back the trophy when facing the United States in Iowa next August.

Victory for the US in Germany was seriously overshadowed by a final-day row involving Pettersen and Alison Lee.

All square at the 17th hole, Lee missed a birdie putt to win the hole and picked up her ball rather than completing the 18-inch putt she had left to hole out, stating she heard Team Europe concede her the putt.

Pettersen and her partner Charley Hull said they did not in fact concede the putt, resulting in the Americans' loss of the hole and the Europeans went one-up with one hole to play.

The Norwegian was widely criticised for poor sportsmanship, which triggered an effusive apology.

When asked whether the home crowd will remember that affair, Sorenstam admitted: "Absolutely, they will bring it up.

"I don't know about being prepared for it but I am expecting it to come up on a regular basis, yes."

The 10-time Major winner added: "I think my role is to make sure that it isn't something we dwell on. It is done, it is in the past.

"We were all there, we know what it was like and we don't want to go through that again. We want to put it behind us and move on; that will be one of my roles.

"We are not going to hide from it but it is time to move on. There have been incidents in the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup before but we have moved on.

"I feel like Suzann addressed it, after it was finished. She took a lot of the blame, we cleared it and moved on so I don't think there is more to be discussed about it."

Sorenstam's decorated status in women's golf is such that she could basically choose when to assume the Team Europe captaincy. She has played in eight Solheim Cups, winning in 2000 and 2003.

"I was always hoping to get this opportunity," said the 45-year-old.

"I have been asked a few times, I was always honoured and flattered but I didn't feel like I was ready.

"Seeing what it takes, seeing the commitment, I knew in my mind I couldn't fulfil that. I still had my foot in the game.

"People might ask why 2017 is my year and I say it just fits my schedule, for a lot of reasons.

"My kids are a little older, I am established in my new role in business and I feel like I have the time to commit.

"This is something that I hoped would happen and I think it is going to work out beautifully."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2016, with the headline '2015 row behind us but fans will bring it up: Sorenstam'. Print Edition | Subscribe