United States captain Stacy Lewis called the failure to market the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup together a “massive missed opportunity.”
The American women’s Solheim Cup competition against Team Europe begins Friday in Spain, while the U.S. men will face their European counterparts in Italy one week later.
“I think this could have been marketed together as two weeks in Europe, two Cups for play,” Lewis said during a press conference Wednesday at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia. “I think it was a missed opportunity for the sport of golf. I wish that, you know, people could get the sponsorship things out of their head and let’s figure out how we can work together because this may not ever happen again of the two Cups being in the same year.
“So I thought it was a massive missed opportunity. We tried to do a little bit with the guys and just weren’t really able to move things along the way I would have liked. So I don’t know, hopefully — I just would like to see it for the good of the game. It’s not to further women’s golf. Let’s further the game of golf in general.”
The Solheim Cup has been held in odd-numbered years since 2003. The Ryder Cup traditionally was scheduled in even-numbered years, but the 2020 event was shifted to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Solheim Cup will shift to even-numbered years starting in 2024 in Gainesville, Va.
Lewis, 38, said she tried to start the conversation about a joint marketing effort.
“I did. I tried. I tried really hard, actually,” she said. “I probably spent more time on it than I should have. But whether it was timing or it was too late in the process, I don’t know. I mean, to really market it correctly, like, this probably had to happen two years ago. So it’s something that going forward, I think the game of golf needs to get on the same page and do better with.”
As for this week’s competition, Lewis conceded that the more experienced European squad is the favorite as the two-time defending champion.
“They have won the last two, we’re on their soil, they have a great team that has a ton, a ton of experience in this event,” she said. “So you look at history, you know, it doesn’t bode well for us. But I love our chances. I love these rookies. I think they’re going to have a great week and hopefully surprise a lot of people.”
Lewis said she has tried to boost her young roster by using analytics to help with pairings and strategy.
“It’s been my start point for everything. It’s not the be all,” she said. “There’s certainly personalities of people do or don’t want to play together, maybe it’s a golf ball issue, but analytics are a huge part of what we’re doing and it’s helped justify things to me in my head and it’s helped justify things with the players as well.”
–Field Level Media