European Solheim Cup captain Catrin Nilsmark from Sweden announced her five wild cards to compliment the seven automatic qualifiers for the 2003 Solheim Cup at Barseback G&CC near Malmo in Sweden.
During the final round of the Wales WPGA Championship of Europe, several players had the chance to play their way into the European Solheim Cup team. Many tried hard and came so close to representing their continent, but in the end Scotland’s Mhairi McKay, who endured the full gamut of emotions as she spent the weekend at her parents’ home in Glasgow.
McKay, the Australian Open champion, was mightily relieved to finish in the seventh and final qualifying spot for the team after missing the cut at Royal Porthcawl.
“My stomach’s been in turmoil all weekend and I just couldn’t do anything about it but now I’m absolutely delighted to be in the team again,” said McKay.
After Australian Shani Waugh took the spoils at the event, Nilsmark announced her five captain’s picks and four of those came as little surprise to the cognoscenti of European women’s golf.
Joining the top seven players as part of the 12 strong European team were Patricia Meunier-Lebouc from France, who won the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the years first major in March, Carin Koch from Sweden, who is undefeated in The Solheim Cup, Suzann Pettersen from Norway, a rookie at Interlachen last season and two more Scots, Catriona Matthew, who was controversially omitted over the last two encounters and Janice Moodie who played a significant role during Europe’s victory two years ago at Loch Lomond.
Moodie was the surprise addition to the team in favour of Becky Morgan from Wales, who has posted seven top tens around the world this year. But for Nilsmark and Moodie, past Solheim experience was the deciding factor given an invidious choice of two world-class players.
“It was very difficult this afternoon,” said Nilsmark during her announcement.
“Basically, my choices came down to two players in the end and Becky Morgan was obviously one of them. I feel very sad for her today and I know she is going to play many Solheim Cup’s to come and I really made my mind up just half and hour ago (before the media conference).
“I do think Janice has good current form and Becky has been playing wonderfully all year. But in this case, it came down to experience. Janice has been there before and we all know she is a very good match player.
“The overall balance looks really good, I have two rookies and so does Patti (Sheehan) and most of our players know each other really well so I don’t think I will have many problems with pairings during the week.
“But I am really happy with my team and we are all looking forward to going there in a couple of weeks.”
The European Team is as follows:
Annika Sorenstam (Sweden) Laura Davies (England) Sophie Gustafson (Sweden) Elisabeth Esterl (Germany) Iben Tinning (Denmark) Ana-Belen Sanchez (Spain) Mhairi McKay (Scotland) Catriona Matthew (Scotland) Janice Moodie (Scotland) Carin Koch (Sweden) Patricia Meunier-Lebouc (France) Suzann Pettersen (Norway)
The Solheim Cup is a biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition which began in 1990 and is sponsored by PING golf equipment. The Solheim Cup is named in honour of Karsten Solheim and his family.
Solheim is the founder of Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, which makes PING golf equipment. In 1990, the Solheim family, in conjunction with the LPGA and the then Women Professional Golfers’ European Tour, developed the concept and became the title sponsor for The Solheim Cup, professional golf’s international match-play competition for women.
Held every two years, the event has grown into a prestigious international women’s professional golf event. The Cup is the most highly coveted trophy in women’s professional golf team competition; some of the most memorable moments in women’s golf have happened during one of The Solheim Cups, and berths on the US and European teams are highly sought after by players from both organisations.