2021 Solheim Cup: Diving into Team USA

Nelly Korda, right, and Jessica Korda, left, of Team USA high five.(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Nelly Korda, right, and Jessica Korda, left, of Team USA high five.(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

With the 2021 AIG Women’s Open wrapping up and the Solheim Cup fastly approaching, Team USA announced its nine qualifiers and three captain picks as the Americans look to seek redemption after the 2019 Cup.

Since 1990, the Solheim Cup plays every two years as the 12 best American and European ladies compete for bragging rights.

The 2021 Solheim Cup is Aug. 31-Sept.6 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Team USA’s Captain is  Pat Hurst, and she chose Angela Stanford, Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie West to be her assistant captains.

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There are three days of play with the first two days, including foursome matches in the morning and four-ball matches in the afternoon. On the final day, there will be singles matches.

In the last Solheim Cup, the European team won 14.5-13.5 over the Americans at Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course in Scotland.

Even though the Europeans hold bragging rights right now, the Americans hold a 10-6 record since winning the first Solheim Cup 11.5-4.5.

2021 Solheim Cup Team USA Qualifiers

Team USA has nine ladies automatically qualified for the event.

After an already busy season, including the 2020 Toyko Olympics earlier this August, these are some of the most deserving ladies that’ll give the Europeans tough competition.

Solheim Cup, Team USA
Brittany Altomare, left, and Nelly Korda, right, of Team USA. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Here are the nine qualifiers for Team USA:

These nine ladies earned their spot on Team USA, so here is more information on each lady and how they made the Solheim Cup team.

Nelly Korda

What hasn’t Nelly Korda accomplished this season? She is currently the Rolex Women’s World No.1 Golfer and the Olympic Gold Medalist after destroying the field in Tokyo.

Korda started her reign of terror by winning the Gainbridge LPGA event back in February with a 16 under final score.

Then she won back-to-back events in the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give with a 25 under and her first major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, with a 19 under total score.

Korda is one of the hottest players on the LPGA Tour right now, and if she gets in the zone, she’ll find a lot of success in Ohio. In her Solheim Cup debut in 2019, Korda went 3-0-1 as she was a force for the Americans.

Danielle Kang

Ranked No. 5 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Danielle Kang has earned seven Top-10s so far this season.

She recorded a T5 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship. Kangs’ best finish was at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions presented by Insurance Office of America, where she was the runner-up.

Kang is a strong competitor and has experience on the 2017 and 2019 Solheim Cup teams racking up a 5-3-1 record. Between her and Korda, they’re itching to get the Cup back in American arms.

Ally Ewing

The third player to qualify for Team USA was Ally Ewing, who has one win and four top-10s so far this season.

Ranked as the No. 22 Rolex Player, her most recent top-10 came at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open when she finished solo-sixth. Her win this year came at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play event at Shadow Creek.

Ewing turned pro in 2016 and won her first LPGA event in 2020 at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia.

She was also on the 2019 Solheim Cup team but didn’t have much success as she finished the event with a 1-3 record.

Her one win was memorable, though it tied for the largest margin of victory in the four-ball portion of the event when Ewing and Angel Yin defeated Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall 7-5.

So it wasn’t perfect, but with the event playing on American soil, I  have to bet she’ll step up and help out the team.

Austin Ernst

The next player to qualify was Austin Ernst, who ranks as the No. 27 player and has one win on the season. She also has three top-10 finishes this season, which helped earn her a spot on this team.

Ernst won the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala back in March, giving her three career wins.

She earned back-to-back top-10s at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where she finished T7 and followed that performance up with a T5 at the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana.

Since then, she hasn’t broken the top-20, but Ernst is more than capable of helping the United States.

Ernst was on the 2017 team that defeated the European team 16.5-11.5. She went 2-2 and helped scored two points. After not qualifying for the 2019 group, Ernst is back to help get bragging rights back from the Europeans.

Lexi Thompson

One of the most well-known names in golf, Lexi Thompson, has qualified for her fifth Solheim Cup.  She has four top tens on the season and ranks as the No. 12 player on the Rolex Rankings.

It’s been a year of ups and downs for Thompson, but she seems to be back on the right path. In four of the last six events, she has placed in the top 20. Thompson finished third at the U.S. Women’s Open, and that is when all of the world saw she was back to playing outstanding golf.

She tied in the runner-up spot twice this season at the Kia Classic and the Gainbridge LPGA event.

There’s no denying Thompson can be one of the most clutch players when she’s on her game. While she has an overall 5-4-6 record in the Solheim Cup, she knows the drill and can help the Americans score some much-needed points.

Solheim Cup, Team USA
Jessica Korda (Photo credit: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images) /

Jessica Korda

Nelly’s older sister was the sixth American to qualify for the 2021 Solheim Cup team as she collected one win and four top-10s this season.

Jessica won the first event of the 2021 season at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions presented by Insurance Office of America with a 260 (-24) total score.

She was the runner-up at the HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open and followed that event up by finishing third at the Pure Silk Championship presented by Visit Williamsburg.

The 2021 Solheim Cup will be her third appearance after making the 2013 and 2019 teams. She has an overall 4-2-2 record in the event and made history with Nelly last year when they became the first pair of sisters to play together as they led the Americans by both going 3-0-1.

They earned two of the largest margins of victories during the foursomes as they won 6-4 over Caroline Masson and Jodi Ewart Shadoff on Day 1 and 6-5 over Carlota Ciganda and Bronte Law on Day 2.

I  have a feeling these two will make more history in this year’s Solheim Cup as they’ll likely lead the team again, but hopefully, this time, it’ll be to an American win.

Megan Khang

Team America’s seventh qualifier is Megan Khang, who has three top-10s this year.

Her best recent finish came at the U.S. Women’s Open when she finished T4 — her career-best finish in a major championship.

Khang’s other two top-10 finishes came at the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala, where she finished T8, and at the ANA Inspiration event, where she tied for 10th place.

This Solheim Cup will be Khang’s second after playing on the 2019 team, where she finished with a 0-2-1 record. She managed to score .5 points on single days but struggled on the first two days to help the American score any points.

Round two at the Solheim Cup could see better results from Khang, especially since the event is on American soil.

Lizette Salas

Salas has two runner-up finishes at major championships this season, which helped her qualify for her fifth Solheim Cup.

She is coming off a great performance at the AIG Women’s Open, where she tied for second place, giving Salas her fourth top-10s this season.

Salas finished solo-second at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship as well.

After starting the season, missing the cut in three of the first four events, Salas didn’t break the top-40 at an event until the Pure Silk Championship presented by Visit Williamsburg, when she finished tied-fifth. Two weeks later, she tied for sixth place at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give.

Salas’ first Solheim Cup was in 2013, and she has been on the team since, where her overall record is 6-6-2.

While she has combined with her partner for three wins in the Four-Ball and Foursomes portions, the final day is when she’s shined the most. Salas is 3-0-1 in singles matches, so she will need to continue that streak to help Team USA win.

Jennifer Kupcho

The final player to qualify for Team USA’s Solheim Cup team is Jennifer Kupcho, who has four top-10s  and two top-fives on the season.

Kupcho’s latest top-five was at the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf Management when she finished solo-third. Her first top-five of the year was at the LPGA Drive On Championship presented by Volvik at Golden Ocala as she took home second.

She won the inaugural 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, the 2018 NCAA Individual Championship for Wake Forest University and a few more honors.

Kupcho hasn’t recorded her first professional win, but her resume shows that she has a ton of potential.

She is making her Solheim Cup debut this year but competed on the victorious 2018 Curtis Cup and Palmer Cup teams. Kupcho is competitive and seems to like these kinds of events, so she could prove to be just what the Americans need to win.

Solheim Cup, Team USA
Megan Khang of Team USA plays a shot in a practice round as Assistant Captain of Team USA Pat Hurst looks on (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) /

2021 Solheim Cup Team USA Captain Picks

After nine players qualified to play on Team USA, Captain Pat Hurst had the final three picks. She chose Yealimi Noh, Brittany Altomare, and Mina Harigae.

Hurst said in a press release, she wanted to find the hottest hands possible, and two of the three have been playing extremely well.

"“If you look at how they have played the last month and a half, the writing was on the wall as to who were the hottest players,” Hurst said about Noh and Harigae. “In 2019, we had six rookies, so I didn’t really have to worry about if we had enough experience or not, or if we needed more experience on the team because everyone had pretty much played. With that being said, it made it a lot easier to pick those two.”"

Even though these three players don’t have any wins on the LPGA Tour, it seemed like Hurst felt like there was enough experience, so that’s why she choose the way she did.

Not to mention these three all seem really confident in their game right now, which could benefit Team USA, but at the same time, it’s an event where nerves can get the best of you, so only time will tell.

Like we did with the qualifiers, here is a little more information on each of the Captain picks as Team USA is finally complete.

Yealimi Noh

It’s honestly surprising that Yealimi Noh hasn’t gotten over the hump and recorded her first win yet. In her last five events, Noh recorded two top threes, a top-10 and two top-15s.

Noh finished either solo third or tied in back-to-back weeks at the Dow Great Lakes Invitational and in the Amundi Evian Championship, one of the LPGA’s five majors.

She T14 at the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf Management and followed that up with a T7 at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open. To cap off the last five events, Noh finished the fifth and final major of the year T13 at the AIG Women’s Open.

She’s playing some of the best golf on Tour right now, so it’s not surprising why Hurst chose her.  I’m excited to see how she performs on a stage like this when she has to compete for her country.

Brittany Altomare

As part of the 2019 Solheim Cup team, Altomare was a solid choice for Hurst. She has three top-10 finishes so far this year and knows how the event works, so she’ll add to the experienced players.

Altomare had a decent summer with a T6 finish at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational and a T15 at the Amundi Evian Championship. She recorded a T3 a month earlier at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give and finished T9 at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play hosted by Shadow Creek in May.

Altomare went 2-1-1 in Scotland for the 2019 Solheim Cup,  so she earned a spot back on the team, and rightfully so.

Mina Harigae

The final captain pick is Mina Harigae, who is also playing extremely well right now.

She started July off strong as she finished tied-second at the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana but then had a missed cut the following week.

Since then,  Harigae finished T29 at The Amundi Evian Championship, T5 at the ISPS Handa World Invitational and wrapped up the major play with a T13 finish at the AIG Women’s Open.

She will be Team USA’s third Solheim Cup rookie, so hopefully, Harigae will keep up the strong play to prove that she was worth a captain pick.

Team USA has a stacked team, but most importantly, they have a group of women who, for the most part, have enough experience to bring home the win. While it won’t be an easy battle, the American’s can get the job done.

Hopefully, they’ll come out victorious, so they can show the men in their upcoming Ryder Cup matches that it’s possible.