From the start of her captaincy, Stacy Lewis wanted to make sure her team had a deep understanding and appreciation of the past. The hope, of course, is that the passion so many have felt for this event for decades lives on in the next generation.
“I had Meg (Mallon) and Juli (Inkster) and that age of players – they brought that to me,” said Lewis when she was named captain. “I saw their passion for the event, and that’s what I want to convey to them, and in myself and the assistants that I do bring in, they’re going to have a passion for this event, and that’s one of the biggest things I want to do.”
To that end, there’s a yellow duck on the bottom of each player’s bag and an “88” on the back of their hats.
The “88” is in memory of Kathy Whitworth, whose 88 LPGA titles is a record that might not ever be broken. Whitworth, who died last year on Christmas Eve, captained Team USA to victory at the inaugural Solheim Cup in 1990.
Solheim Cup: Photos
The yellow duck is in memory of LPGA founder Shirley Spork, who died last April. The Solheim Cup didn’t begin until 40 years after Spork helped found the tour, but she was an ardent fan, even making the trip to Scotland in 2019 at age 92.
Spork often looked for ducks when she played to her take her mind off competition. The strategy helped keep her relaxed.
— Gemma (@gbruce14) September 18, 2023
Though Spork never played for Team USA, she had her own goosebump moments at places like the Old Course and Turnberry.
“That was my Solheim because at every exhibition on the first tee, they raised the American flag and played the national anthem,” said Spork back in 2019. “That was really special for me.”
Spork asked fans at the end of each session to throw shillings onto the 18th green for junior golf. It was always about growing the game for Spork.
“This event, gosh, it’s everything for our tour,” said Lewis. “It’s everything for women’s golf.”