On Sunday evening after the final round of the Wales WPGA Championship of Europe, European Solheim Cup captain Dale Reid has the invidious task of announcing her five wild cards to play in the 2002 Solheim Cup at Interlachen in Minnesota from September 20-22.
Once the final putt is holed, seven European born players will have earned the right to face the USA in this spectacular biennial event, having battled for two years to gain one of the top seven automatic spots in Team Europe.
|Marti – played her way in|
And the 22-year-old from Barcelona showed her mettle with a second place finish at the French Open and under the biggest pressure of her short career, demonstrated an uncanny ability to rack up a plethora of birdies, securing her place with four rounds in the 60’s, finishing second behind Karrie Webb at the Weetabix Women’s British Open.
Icher, in third automatic spot in the rankings, is a doughty 23-year-old from Châteauroux who also won twice in her rookie year, the Mexx Sport Open and the Ladies German Open, and in May, notched up her third career victory in the Spanish Open to effectively make the team.
Interlachen is a tight tricky course with small undulating greens and tight fairways and with Icher, who was recently described as having the ability to ‘get up and down out of a ball washer’, is likely to be the perfect compliment to the seasoned Solheim Cup players such as Sorenstam and Laura Davies.
Speaking of whom, the big hitting 38-year-old from Surrey demonstrated that she still has the competitive edge with a gutsy victory at the P4 Norwegian Masters in early August. While not yet in the automatic seven spots, and uncharacteristically missing the cut at Turnberry, Davies still has to run the race for selection.
|Koch – making every effort|
Gustafson meanwhile, has had a poor season in the USA, but on her return to Europe rediscovered her immense talent with consistent performances in Norway and Scotland. Right on cue Sophie!
That leaves those wild cards. Reid is incredibly spoiled for choice with many of the top European players playing in America and having to rely on a pick. She has even suggested to the media that USA Captain Patty Sheehan could ‘borrow a few players’ to make up the USA team!
Sweden’s Carin Koch did her chances the power of good with a top ten finish at the Weetabix Women’s British Open and was leading after three rounds before Webb caught light with a final round 66 on Sunday.
Compatriot Maria Hjorth leads the birdies and eagles statistics on the LPGA, a sign of a good matchplay specialist and having missed out at Loch Lomond, Hjorth is once again hungry to represent Europe.
Scotland’s Janice Moodie won her second LPGA title earlier in the year signalling a return to form. But the Glaswegian has not played any other events in Europe this year, which could be a problem for her when the top seven players are decided. And compatriot Mhairi McKay has shown enough talent this year to make Reid think hard about a selection. McKay finished in the top ten at the US Open this year and made her way over to Europe to play in the Compaq Open to throw her hat into the wild card ring.