It was February 2002, and I had just come back from the US after 24 years and was working as the national women’s team coach for Spain. During that week in the south of Spain, while the team was competing in the Women’s International Championship, I got a call from both the Swedish Federation and PING. They asked me to organize the first PING Junior Solheim Cup event, to be played during the days before the Solheim Cup in August of that year. That was the start of a very intense relationship with the most important event in women’s sports worldwide: the Solheim Cup.
From that day on, my involvement with the event would vary, but it was always filled with passion. I was the European team captain in the PING Junior Solheim Cup in several occasions, vice-captain in others, helper for Team Europe for many years, European vice-captain in 2017 and, in the last few years, I took a more executive role as Chair of the Ladies European Tour.
It is very difficult to express with words the feelings you go through during that week. The team’s aura is definitely different. The players, who have worked extremely hard during the previous two years to be able to be part of Team Europe, go through a certain “transformation”. I have seen some of them arriving in not such an excellent form, but when Friday morning arrives and they are on the first tee, the level of emotion is so high, that any insecurities or lack of confidence that any of them could be feeling, goes away; their essence takes control, the emotions transform them, the desire of experiencing such a especial moment takes over any doubts, and the support of thirty thousand people that are present every day drives them to perform at the highest level.
I have experienced very special moments as a player, such as victories, and as a coach, during the Olympic Games for instance. But nothing compares to the week of the Solheim Cup, not only for the players, but for all those who are there and live the experience.
We have had many Spanish players in Solheim Cup teams. In 2002, the first year of the PING Junior Solheim Cup, I was leading 12 juniors and amongst them, there were 7 Spaniards! Starting in 2009 while in Chicago, I began to dream of the possibility of bringing the Solheim Cup to Spain. Once I became a member of the Ladies European Tour Board, and later the LET Chair, I realized that I was in a privileged situation to be able to bring the event to Spain. It has been a long process, difficult and discouraging in many occasions, but we were able to close negotiations a few months ago, and the Solheim Cup will come, finally to Spain! The road to 2023 is going to be wonderful and exciting. Having this event in Spain means a total success, not only at a sports level, but it will be socially and economically essential for our country. Personally, I am going to keep working extremely hard to make sure that the 2023 Solheim Cup will be the best ever, for players, officials and everyone involved in the event. The players arrive as a team and they leave as family!