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Loss Of Innocence For The Young

PARKER, COLORADO | There is nothing like the happy ignorance of youth, so bubbly and innocent and completely oblivious to the challenges that lie ahead. Before the opening ceremonies of the Solheim Cup, Charley Hull, who is 17 and the youngest player in the history of the matches, answered questions about the pressure of playing on such a big stage. “I don’t know,” she said, wide-eyed and smiling like a kid speaking in front of her high-school drama class. “I spoke to Annika (Sorenstam), and I spoke to Catriona (Matthew), and I’ve been asking a little bit, but I haven’t really been trying to think about it too much. “The first tee shot, really, is no different to hitting a tee shot at my home golf club. It’s the same swing and stuff. It’s a lot of people (watching), obviously, but I’m just going to think of it like that.” That sent Suzann Pettersen into a giggling fit, her shoulders heaving with each guffaw. “Just like a club medal,” Suzann said when she could regain her composure enough to speak, to which Charley shrugged and innocently responded, “Yeah.” Hull wasn’t the only babe in the woods. With 10 rookies between the two teams, this iteration of the biennial matches was the youngest in history with Lexi Thompson (18) and Jessica Korda (20) joining Hull as the first class of Solheim Cup players who weren’t born when the first two cups were contested in 1990 and 1992. Hull was but a dream in her parents’ imagination when the 1994 matches concluded. And Thompson edged Paula Creamer this year as the youngest American in Solheim Cup history. It showed. Thompson took to her favorite medium, Twitter, to rave about all the goodies in her hotel room, while Korda said, “You’re used to being on a team in junior golf, but I’ve never been on a professional golf team. Most of (the girls) on the Junior Solheim Cup team, I still know half of them out there. So, I’m walking down the fairway and I’m like, ‘Hey, I know you.’ ” None of them comprehended why their teammates laughed at those anecdotes. Hull especially seemed puzzled by her sudden comedic charm. Even the captains got a chuckle out of the young three. “Paula (Creamer) said all (the same things) at her first (Solheim) press conference, and then when it came time to go to the first tee, Beth Daniel had to go get her off the putting green,” captain Meg Mallon recalled. “She said, ‘I knew it was going to be like this, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this.’ She was frozen.” Creamer agreed, saying, “I thought I knew what it was going to be like walking out on that first tee. I was like, ‘I’ve got it.’ But I can’t tell you how nervous I was. I thought I’d felt everything you could feel at 18 years old, but I was very wrong.” This crop of rookies was wrong, too. The crowd around the first tee was at full throttle when Korda made her way through the tunnel Friday morning. Though only a fraction of the size of Ryder Cup crowds, what these galleries lacked in numbers they made up for in enthusiasm. The grandstands behind the first tee were full at 6 a.m. even though the first tee time wasn’t until 7:40. Painted faces, waving flags, capes and clown hats were on full display. While on the putting green, Korda put in ear buds and turned on music, but even if she couldn’t hear the cheers, she could feel them. She handled the pressure as any 20-year-old would: She vomited on her way to the first tee. Then she hooked her first tee shot into a pine tree. Morgan Pressel put an arm around her and talked her down, but even though Korda’s play improved dramatically, the nerves never left. After a great tee shot she smiled at her father and showed him her quivering hands. A few holes later, she shivered as if she’d just stepped out of a freezer. It was 85 degrees. Hull and Thompson had their own jitters, although they kept lunch down. Hull seemed to have trouble forming saliva and couldn’t get to a water bottle fast enough


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