Newspaper article International New York Times

A Star Thrives under Pressure ; at Past 2 Solheim Cups, Swede Has Stayed Cool to Make the Winning Putts

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Star Thrives under Pressure ; at Past 2 Solheim Cups, Swede Has Stayed Cool to Make the Winning Putts

Article excerpt

A fierce competitor, Caroline Hedwall, 26, has kept her cool to help Europe win the past two Solheim Cups and she's back on the team at the event this weekend in Germany.

At the 2013 Solheim Cup in Colorado, Sweden's Caroline Hedwall did something no other player had ever done: She notched a 5-0 record.

She played in every match and won them all, leading her European Solheim Cup team to a first-ever victory on American soil. Hedwall didn't bring the same swashbuckling style to the team as Norway's Suzann Pettersen, or the veteran confidence of Scotland's Catriona Matthew, or the electric style of Spain's Azahara Munoz. But she did offer a smorgasbord of shots that flattened her competition like a stack of Swedish pancakes.

Even in 2011, when as a rookie professional she was a captain's pick on Europe's team, Hedwall helped the squad win points in the last three singles matches, sealing a 15-13 victory in Ireland.

She was two holes down in singles, but fought back and won the last two holes against Ryann O'Toole to square her match and earn a half point. That half point secured Europe's victory.

"She made the winning putts in Colorado and Ireland," said Carin Koch, the European captain this year. "She has that extra switch to turn on for match play and she stays so cool in pressure situations."

Hedwall won four tournaments in 2011 on the Ladies European Tour, finishing as the L.E.T.'s top rookie and top player that year. She is still looking for her first L.P.G.A. victory, as well as her first top-10 finish this season.

Now 26, she is back on the European Solheim Cup team despite a lackluster L.P.G.A. season. In 18 tournaments, she had eight missed cuts and her best result was a tie for 26, at the Swinging Skirts L.P.G.A. Classic in April. Her season scoring average is 72.98, with only 16 rounds under par.

But what Hedwall will bring to the Solheim Cup, which starts Friday at the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Germany, is not a quantifiable measurement. What she offers is a quiet, simmering competitiveness that breeds confidence among her captains and teammates.

"She is a grinder and a fighter," said Annika Sorenstam, the retired Swedish star who is assisting the European side this weekend. "She loves the team atmosphere and she gets all fired up."

Liselotte Neumann, captain of the 2013 European team, had complete confidence in Hedwall and sent her out to play in every match.

"It's really hard to win all your matches, but she played great with Anna and Caroline," Neumann said, referring to Anna Norqvist and Caroline Masson. "She brought out the best in them and they also brought the best out of her."

While Hedwall had to adjust quickly to hitting her 7-iron 170 yards at altitude, at the Colorado Golf Club near Denver, the fact that she figured it out and trusted her putting produced confidence that trickled down to the rest of the team. …

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