Aug 17 (Reuters) - Nine-time veteran Cristie Kerr and long-hitting Lexi Thompson will lead off for the United States against Europe’s Mel Reid and Charley Hull when the 15th Solheim Cup starts in Iowa on Friday.
Four foursomes (alternate shot) matches will be played in the morning at Des Moines Golf & Country Club, followed by four four-ball matches in the afternoon.
Glamour girl Michelle Wie is among the four Americans left on the bench for the morning matches by captain Juli Inkster.
“I don’t really want to have to play somebody five matches,” said Inkster, who is confident her team’s bench strength will be decisive as they defend the Cup they won in Germany two years ago.
“So someone’s going to have to sit sometimes. And I want everybody to try to play at least three matches.”
Europe captain Annika Sorenstam does not have the luxury of resting her top players, even more so following the withdrawal of top gun Suzann Pettersen, who has a bad back.
Only one European, number 13 Anna Nordqvist, is ranked in the top 20 in the world, while the U.S. has four players -- number two Thompson, as well as Kerr, Stacy Lewis and Danielle Kang.
“We decided that we wanted to have one rookie in the morning, which is Georgia (Hall), so we decided to go out with some more veteran players early on,” said Sorenstam, who will sit out her other three rookies, Florentyna Parker, Emily Pederson and Madelene Sagstrom.
The U.S. lead 9-5 since the competition began in 1990 and are heavily favoured by bookmakers to win.
The Americans are 6-1 at home, with Europe’s lone victory on American soil coming four years ago in Colorado.
But there will be no complacency on the American side, said Lewis.
“I don’t think that’s a word that’s even been spoken,” said the former world number one.
”Juli has been on us about playing our games and working hard. She gave us hard hats to start the week. We’re here to do our work, and that’s kind of the model we took into Germany (two years ago).
FRIDAY MORNING FOURSOMES MATCHES (U.S. listed first):
Cristie Kerr/Lexi Thompson v Mel Reid/Charley Hull
Danielle Kang/Lizette Salas v Carlota Ciganda/Caroline Masson
Paula Creamer/Austin Ernst v Anna Nordqvist/Georgia Hall
Stacy Lewis/Gerina Piller v Karine Icher/Catriona Matthew (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom)