Nicolas, Jones size up Killeen Castle

With good reason, Alison Nicholas and Rosie Jones are at Killeen Castle on scouting missions this week.

With the 2011 Solheim Cup just 13 months away, both the European and US Captains, Alison Nicholas and Rosie Jones, are at Killeen Castle on scouting missions ahead of this week’s AIB Ladies Irish Open.

The captains are already starting work on their course strategy ahead of the 12th staging of the biennial, international team match play battle, which will take place here at Killeen Castle from 19-25 September, 2011.

For Nicholas, this week’s tournament will give her the opportunity to discuss the course set-up with Europe’s would-be hopefuls, to give her side the best possible opportunity to regain the Cup.

“That’s what we’ll be looking at very deeply, basically. We’ll have a look at what the players think of the course in the practise rounds and during the week,” said Nicholas, who has been joined on site by one of her two vice-captains, Joanne Morley.

The other, Annika Sorenstam, will visit the course in September.

“The course this week is set up a little bit shorter than The Solheim will be, but all the players have got the information in terms of the yardages and we’ll be looking at that very deeply with my vice-captain and setting a strategy from there.

“We don’t have any major secrets really but I’ve always got to remember that the American players are very, very good players and they adapt very well to anything. We’ve got some work to do and it’s always going to be a tough match because they are always very good. My players are getting ready for it. We’ve lost over the last three occasions so they will be up for it.”

The United States won The 2009 Solheim Cup, 16 to 12 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. The USA leads the overall competition 8-3, but they are only 2-3 when competing on European soil.

The US Captain, Rosie Jones, was joined on-site by her assistant captains, Juli Inkster and Sherri Steinhauer, who were all delighted with the golf course.

Jones said: “I think it’s a great venue here at Killeen Castle. It’s a great golf course, a Niklaus design. I think it’s going to be very comfortable for our players to come over here. It looks a little more American than European style golf courses so we’re looking forward to that.

“The greens are very undulated, so you need to be a good iron player and I think you need to bring the rough into the fairways a bit. We’re trying to talk Alison Nicholas into doing that and she hasn’t responded yet.”
Inkster added: “Ft’s beautiful. It’s not really what I expected. I expected more of a linksy course. It’s pristine. It’s set up great. The greens are very undulated, good bunkering. It looks like iron shots and putting is probably where it’s going to be at.”

Both captains have been swapping notes with their Ryder Cup counterparts.

Nicholas said: “I’ve talked to all the Ryder Cup captains and I will be doing a bit more of that. I’m going to the Ryder Cup so I’ll be talking to them, particularly on course set-up possibly and I’ve read every article, everything you can think of. I’ve done my home work and I shall be doing more of that, getting the players together to discuss how we can go out and win this thing.:

Jones said: “I’ve had some conversations with past captains of the Ryder Cup and I’m certainly having conversations with past captains of the US teams. They’ve given me a lot of advice and information coming over here so I’ll be totally prepared.”