BRASELTON, Ga. –
Nancy Lopez, the 2005 Solheim Cup U.S. Team Captain and a four-time Rolex Player of the Year on the LPGA Tour, has been selected by PING and the American Junior Golf Association to captain the 2009 PING Junior Solheim Cup U.S. Team.
The PING Junior Solheim Cup, which biennially features the 12 best female junior golfers (ages 12-18) from the United States against the top 12 junior girls from Europe, will be held at Aurora Country Club in Aurora, Ill.
"This is a new challenge and an opportunity to get to know the players of tomorrow,” Lopez said. “I feel like I’ve been out of the loop for many years, so to meet the new superstars of the LPGA excites me a whole bunch.”
Lopez made an immediate impact on the LPGA Tour as a rookie in 1978, winning nine times, including a record five in a row, en route to Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year, and Vare Trophy honors. She remains the only player in LPGA Tour history to win all three awards in the same season.
Between 1978 and 1997, Lopez earned 48 LPGA victories, including three LPGA Championships (1978, 1985, 1989). Lopez competed in the inaugural Solheim Cup in 1990, compiling a 2-1-0 record for the victorious U.S. Team. In 2005, Lopez captained the U.S. Team to a 15 1/2 – 12 1/2 victory over the Europeans, and hopes to do the same for the juniors in 2009.
“It will be different, but it’s a benefit to know how to be able to bring 12 individual players together, and with that I feel like we were successful in what we did,” Lopez said. “Having daughters of my own is a benefit, too, because all these girls are my daughters’ age, so I think it’ll be a lot of fun to be a part of what they’re doing. Hopefully I can make a difference in their lives.”
Lopez won at least two LPGA tournaments in each of her first eight full seasons on tour and was inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame in 1987 and the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989.
As a junior golfer, Lopez won the New Mexico Women’s Amateur at the age of 12 and won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship twice (1972 and 1974). Internationally, Lopez was a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup and World Amateur teams.
“It made me appreciate what I was doing and it taught me how to handle myself in certain situations,” said Lopez, referring to her international playing opportunities as an amateur. “It was a great experience to meet the best junior players in the world because I wanted to be the best at the time.”
The 2009 event will mark the fifth PING Junior Solheim Cup, with the all-time series tied 2-2-0. The team hosting the event has won the PING Junior Solheim Cup in all four instances.
“We are honored to have Nancy Lopez be Captain of the USA team for the 2009 PING Junior Solheim Cup,” said John A. Solheim, Chairman and CEO of PING, Inc. “The experience and knowledge she brings as an LPGA player
and a former Solheim Cup team member and captain of the winning 2005 USA Solheim Cup team will be of immense value to the players on the team. She will be an inspiration as well as a leader for the squad.”
In its short history, the PING Junior Solheim Cup already has a reputation for showcasing the world’s up-and-coming female junior golfers. Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, Louise Stahle and Minea Blomqvist all participated before turning professional. Paula Creamer, who was 4-2-0 in two PING Junior Solheim Cup appearances, was the first to go on to play on a Solheim Cup Team, helping the United States win at Crooked Stick in 2005 with a 3-1-1 record.
The Solheim Cup, the most prestigious team event in women’s professional golf and sponsored by PING golf equipment, is named in honor of the company’s founder, Karsten Solheim, and his family. It is a biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition featuring the best American-born players from the LPGA and the best European-born players from the Ladies European Tour.
The U.S. Team leads the competition 7-3 and has never lost on home soil. The 2009 Solheim Cup will be played Aug. 17-23, 2009 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.
PING designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of golf equipment including metal woods, irons, putters and golf bags. The family-owned company was founded in 1959 by the late Karsten Solheim. Solheim is the only person to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a golf club manufacturer. Today, the Phoenix-based company is under the direction of Solheim’s youngest son, John A. Solheim. PING game-improvement products can be found in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.pinggolf.com