Stacy Lewis begins the 18th Solheim Cup looking like a genius. Team USA dominated the Friday morning session in Spain, sweeping foursomes for the first time in history.
“I think everyone that paired together had really good chemistry,” said Nelly Korda of the 4-0 start. “Our captain, she paired us up really well.”
Korda’s partner, rookie Allisen Corpuz, drained a 6-foot putt on the final hole to fully shut out Europe and end the session.
Lewis raised plenty of eyebrows putting a struggling Lexi Thompson out first for the Americans, but the most experienced player on Team USA paired with Megan Khang to make an early statement, beating a strong rookie duo of Maja Stark and Linn Grant, 2 and 1. Stark and Grant had never lost a foursomes match together in previous competitions and begged European captain Suzann Pettersen to stay together.
Lewis said she’d heard from team helpers all week how good Thompson was hitting the ball early at Finca Cortesin. She looked at the stats put together from their practice rounds and gave Thompson the nod. She’ll go back out in the afternoon with two-time major winner Lilia Vu in fourball.
Lexi Thompson of Team USA warms up during Day One of The Solheim Cup at Finca Cortesin Golf Club on September 22, 2023 in Casares, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Lewis introduced a Solheim Cup-specific analytics program to Team USA and used it as her starting point for every decision this week.
“It’s not the be all,” said Lewis. “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.”
Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight put the first point on the board, drumming a formerly successful duo of Charley Hull and Emily Pedersen, 5 and 4. The Americans were 6 up at the turn.
“We were ready to take on the day,” said Ewing, a captain’s pick Lewis has leaned on for experience.
Andrea Lee was the third American rookie to score a point in the morning, pairing with Danielle Kang, who’s like a sister to the former Stanford standout.
“I don’t think my heart ever pumped that fast before in my life,” said Lee of a 10-footer down the stretch that helped the U.S. defeat a decorated European partnership of Celine Boutier and Georgia Hall, 1 up.
It all added up to a shocking start for the Americans, who came to Spain having lost the past two Cups.
“It’s huge,” said assistant captain Angela Stanford. “But we have to understand it’s Friday morning. Hopefully by Sunday night we can look back and talk about the history.”