Lexi Thompson in opening pairing for U.S. at Solheim Cup

ANDALUCIA, Spain -- Justin Thomas won't be the only struggling American golfer under a microscope at an international team competition this month.

Lexi Thompson, one of the LPGA Tour's biggest stars over the past dozen years, has struggled mightily this season, missing the cut in eight of her 11 starts.

U.S. team captain Stacy Lewis apparently still has plenty of confidence in Thompson, who will be paired with Megan Khang in the opening match Friday of the 18th Solheim Cup. Sweden's Linn Grant and Maja Stark will be their European opponents in a foursomes (alternate shot) match at Finca Cortesin.

The American duo of Danielle Kang and Andrea Lee will play France's Celine Boutier and England's Georgia Hall in the second match. World No. 3 golfer Nelly Korda and U.S. Women's Open winner Allisen Corpuz will face Ireland's Leona Maguire and Sweden's Anna Nordqvist in the third match, followed by Ally Ewing and Cheyenne Knight taking on England's Charley Hull and Denmark's Emily K. Pedersen in the final match.

Lewis and European team captain Suzann Pettersen didn't yet announce the pairings for the four four-ball matches later on Friday. U.S. rookies Rose Zhang and Lilia Vu, Jennifer Kupcho and Angel Yin aren't scheduled to play in Friday morning's session. Spain's Carlota Ciganda, Sweden's Madelene Sagstrom and Caroline Hedwall and Scotland's Gemma Dryburgh are sitting for the Europeans.

Lewis said she planned on having each player compete in at least one match on Friday; Pettersen didn't seem as committed.

Vu is ranked No. 2 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Ranking after winning two of the five majors, the Chevron Championship and AIG Women's Open, this past season.

"I don't see anybody playing all five sessions," Lewis said of Vu. "You're going to see her a lot, other than that first session. You don't win two majors and sit on the sideline for very long."

Thompson going off first for the Americans is even more surprising. Lewis said she has been getting good reports on Thompson's form from caddies and assistant captains since the team arrived in Spain on Monday. After limping through the worst season of her professional career, Thompson tied for 19th in her last LPGA Tour start at the Kroger Queen City Championship in early September.

"It's kind of every day, there's been more and more people telling me this, and with the data and the analytics that we have, I actually have their strokes gained from the practice over the last two days, and she's off the charts right now," Lewis said. "She's been working really hard the last two months, and I think it was just a matter of time. The driver's looked great, just the ball-striking looks better than it has in a long time."

Thompson, 28, is an 11-time winner on the LPGA Tour, and it's her sixth appearance in the Solheim Cup. With five rookies on the U.S. team, Lewis figures to be leaning heavily on veterans like Thompson, Kang and Korda this weekend.

"Match play, stroke play, you still have to play your game and golf," Thompson said. "But, yeah, might not have been the year that I wanted, but this is this week. I'm not focusing on the past. I'm here with my team this week and going to represent my best."

Thompson had a 6-6-7 record in the past five Solheim Cups, picking up 9½ points for the U.S. She won 2½ out of eight possible points in her past two appearances.

Thompson made the U.S. team by being one of the two highest-ranked players in the world rankings not otherwise eligible for the team.

Thomas, a two-time major champion, also struggled with his form this past season. He was a captain's choice by U.S. team captain Zach Johnson and will compete against Europe at next week's Ryder Cup at Marco Simone in Italy.

"It's like Justin Thomas said, any shot, any moment can change your game," Kang said. "Can't rely on an entire player's career on just how she's been playing lately, right?"

Kang and Lee might have their hands full with Boutier, the Evian Championship winner, and Hall. Boutier and Hall went 3-0-1 when playing together in the past two Solheim Cups.

Europe has won each of the past two Solheim Cups, including a 15-13 victory at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, in 2021. The U.S. team has never lost three times in a row since the event's inception in 1990. The Americans last came out on top outside the U.S. with a 14½-13½ win at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Germany in 2015.