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Pettersen hails Europe's 'fearless' Solheim rookies

Norway's Suzann Pettersen tees off at the 17th hole during the Women's British Open golf championship at St Andrews in Scotland August 2, 20
Norway's Suzann Pettersen tees off at the 17th hole during the Women's British Open golf championship at St Andrews in Scotland August 2, 20

(Reuters) - Europe face a daunting task as they bid to win the Solheim Cup for the first time on American soil this week but Norway's Suzann Pettersen believes their team's six "fearless" rookies can only help the quest.

Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Giulia Sergas, Carlota Ciganda, Carolina Masson, Beatriz Recari and Charley Hull will each make their Cup debuts in Parker, Colorado, where the 13th contest in the biennial competition starts on Friday.

"It's healthy for us to, kind of, have new players coming up," world number three Pettersen told reporters while preparing for the opening foursomes.

"I don't think it's a disadvantage to have a lot of Solheim Cup rookies. They're all out there, and they're fearless and have nothing to lose.

"I think it's much better to have that kind of player rather than the experienced ones who put a lot of pressure on themselves and have everything to prove to the rest of the world that they deserved this spot on the team."

Pettersen, a veteran of seven Solheim Cups, conceded that Europe will have to rise to the challenge in Sunday's concluding 12 singles matches where the United States have traditionally held the upper hand.

"It is always so close on a Sunday," said Pettersen. "I mean it's like two or three points either side. The Americans have always been really good at getting those points and flipping it to their side and their victories.

"You can look at the final numbers and think it's a walk in the park but it usually comes down to certain matches."

AMERICAN THIRST

Europe triumphed in the most recent meeting, beating the United States 15-13 at Killeen Castle in Dunsany, Ireland, in 2011, and the Americans are thirsting to regain the trophy at the Colorado Golf Club.

"We've been waiting for two years to get our Cup back," said Paula Creamer, who will be competing in her fifth U.S. Cup team. "We've never lost on home soil and we're all very aware of that.

"It's a little bit of added pressure but I still think we can use our crowds to be great motivators for us and I think we'll all feed off of that."

For American world number two Stacy Lewis, any talk of the unbeaten record for the U.S. team on home soil was largely irrelevant.

"Well the fact that we haven't lost here is... it's not really talked about that much among us," said Lewis, who won the second major victory of her career by two shots in the Women's British Open at St Andrews in Scotland earlier this month.

"I think we get asked about it more, but we don't really think about it that much. We're out there, we're trying to win, whether we're at home or whether we're away."

Under the captaincy of 18-time LPGA Tour winner Meg Mallon, the U.S. will field four rookies this week in Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas and Gerina Piller.

The Europeans trail 4-8 in the series, which is the women's equivalent of the men's Ryder Cup where the top players from the United States face those of Europe.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Tony Goodson)

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