Icher blown away by first home Solheim appearance

The 36-year-old, one of European captain Carin Koch’s four wildcard picks for the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup,

was thrust straight into the action for the opening foursomes on Friday alongside Spain’s Azahara Munoz.

杭州桑拿

The pair were up against it from the start as Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson opened with three birdies in the first six holes and, despite a fighting comeback that featured a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th, the Americans eased to a 2 and 1 win.

“It’s amazing to see this many people,” a smiling Icher told Reuters in an interview, referring to the 10,000 first-day crowd in attendance at the St Leon-Rot Golf Club that is situated just outside the picturesque university town of Heidelberg.

“The spirit is great, everybody is cheering for us and we see a lot of European blue everywhere so it’s a lot of fun.

“It’s completely the opposite to the atmosphere in the U.S.” she laughed. “In America it gives us motivation to beat them, here it’s just encouragement and we feel the power to go and get them.”

Icher is developing something of a Solheim Cup rivalry with Kerr, the pair having been drawn against each other in four of the last six sessions of the biennial team event.

The Frenchwoman had the upper hand in Colorado in 2013, taking 2-1/2 points out of a possible three against Kerr, but the American gained sweet revenge on Friday.

Icher, a five-times winner on the Ladies European Tour, said the extra length of the shots from Kerr and Thompson was the key to their victory.

“We were not long enough to reach the par-fives in two but they did reach them and that was the problem this morning,” she explained. “We didn’t make enough birdies on the par-fives.”

SIMILAR GAMES

Munoz was also Icher’s partner in both foursomes sessions two years ago and she said the duo felt comfortable in each other’s company in the alternate-shot format.

“We have similar games so it’s easier on the course when you play with someone like that,” added Icher. “She leaves me the yardage I want and things like that.

“Fortunately we have the same driving distance and our second shots are the same too. We aren’t long like Lexi, Brittany Lincicome or Ciganda Carlota, we play the course similar.”

Icher, who made her Solheim Cup debut in the 2002 edition in Minnesota, said there was no extra pressure on her to perform as one of Swede Koch’s wildcard choices.

“When you’re in the team you’re just part of the team,” she explained. “No one says, ‘How did you qualify?’, everyone is on the same level and we all just try to do our best.

“There’s a good atmosphere in the team room, everyone’s nice and relaxed and it’s very enjoyable.”

U.S. skipper Juli Inkster sprang a surprise when she picked Alison Lee for Friday’s afternoon fourballs, having announced 24 hours earlier that the American rookie had been suffering from a stomach bug all week.

Icher said it did not matter to the Europeans either way.

“We don’t care who plays or who doesn’t play,” added the world number 58. “She can be sick and playing well or playing bad, we don’t care about them, we just care about us.”

(Editing by Ken Ferris)