(Photo credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Andalucia, Spain, will provide a test both athletically and physically for golfers competing in the Solheim Cup this week, and they said Tuesday that they're ready for the challenge.
The par-72, 6,903-yard course offers a bit of everything: elevation changes, more than100 bunkers and views of the Estepona Mountains. Players from both the United States and Europe said Finca Cortesin is in fine shape but know what awaits them when the competition begins Friday.
"It's going to be just as much of a physical test this week as a mental test," Leona Maguire of Ireland, making her second Solheim Cup appearance, said Tuesday. "We have a lot of practice, a lot of media, a lot of things this week, a lot of dinners, so managing energy throughout the week is going to be key to make sure we still have plenty in the tank for Sunday.
France's Celine Boutier, who also played with Maguire at Duke, is heading into her third Solheim Cup.
"I've been, you know, trying to rest as much as I could," she said. "I feel like everyone kind of prepared us ahead of time saying that it was going to be a very physical course, so I think just trying to prepare the best you can and at the same time save some energy for the actual tournament."
The United States is looking to reclaim the Solheim Cup for the first time since 2017. Team Europe bested the Americans 15-13 two years ago at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Their members, too, have had a chance to walk the course in practice and know what they are up against.
"It's obviously in spectacular shape," said Ally Ewing, who is playing her third Solheim Cup. "I don't know how much play there's been recently or, you know, over the course of the year, but it's in really good shape.
"It's really hilly. You're going to hear that from a lot of players and caddies. So the recovery off the golf course is going to be really important. It's a long week as it is, so taking care of our feet and our bodies off the course is going to be really important."
For Lexi Thompson, in her sixth Solheim Cup competition, Finca Cortesin presents both opportunities and challenges.
"Yeah, the course is unbelievable. It's in great shape," she said. "I don't know if there's been much play, but I feel like I'm the first divots out there. But it's a tricky golf course. At the same time, it's a really good layout and risk-reward golf course as well. But I think we're all very excited to go out there. It's not an easy walk, so making sure that we pace ourselves along the week.
The captains -- Suzann Pettersen of Europe and Stacy Lewis of the United States -- have yet to announce the pairings.
The players said Tuesday that the chance to represent their countries is a feeling like no other.
"Anytime you get to wear the red white and blue and represent your country at any level of competition it's a big honor," American Danielle Kang said. "My entire team, and I can speak for, you know, everyone, that we come out here to represent it as best as we can and we've been preparing for this, so just excited."
Members of Team Europe are feeling the energy from being back on the continent.
"It's always so much fun, and to be able to come back on European soil with the fans is definitely something I'm looking forward to," Boutier said. "Already today seeing a few faces, and the encouragement on the course was already [a] pretty nice feeling, so very looking forward to the rest of the week."
Maguire said she saw several people from Ireland on her flight to Spain and already fans wearing the country colors at the course on Tuesday.
"Really excited and nice to have the fans cheering along and everybody so excited for us to be here," she said. "Hopefully we can give them some things to cheer about."
--Field Level Media