Michelle Wie says hello while Juli Inkster says goodbye

By Randall MellAugust 23, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupSUGAR GROVE, Ill. ' Beth Daniels captains picks left their fingerprints all over this Solheim Cup.
Michelle Wie did so in a spectacular hello; Juli Inkster in a poignant goodbye.
The rookie and the Hall of Famer will be remembered for what they started and what they ended Sunday in helping the Americans defeat Europe, 16-12, at Rich Harvest Farms.
Wie won a hard-fought match with Helen Alfredsson to finish off a nearly perfect start to her Solheim Cup career. She defeated Alfredsson, 1 up, improving her record to 3-0-1, making her the top American point earner (3 ) in these matches.
Juli Inkster
Juli Inkster ended her Solheim Cup playing career on a winning note as a team. (Getty Images)
Its the most fun Ive ever had playing, Wie said. Every hole seemed like we were walking down the 18th hole of a major championship, times 100.
Inkster, 49, said Sunday that she knows this will be her last Solheim Cup as a player. In fact, she said shes hitting the brakes on her LPGA career. Shes withdrawing from the Safeway Classic this coming week. Shell play just three more times before seasons end and plans to cut back to a limited schedule next year.
Im ready to enjoy, whatever they call it, the fruits of life, Inkster said. Im not going to be playing for the money list anymore. Im going to be playing for the camaraderie. I still love being out there, I love being with the girls.
Struggling at 2 down with five holes to go against Gwladys Nocera, Inkster birdied three of the next four holes to take a 1-up lead.
Though she got herself in trouble losing the final hole, she still won an important half point.
Inkster may be done with the Solheim Cup as a player, but shes a lock as a future captain. With the 1 points she won this week, she separated herself from Meg Mallon as the top point earner in U.S. Solheim Cup history with 18.
With Wie off to such a fast start to her Solheim Cup career, Inkster was asked if she was worried Wie would eventually overtake her as the all-time American point winner.
Shes going to have to go through Paula, Inkster said. Those two are going to fight it out.
There will be a lot of girls who will pass me like Im a red-headed stepchild.
Inkster would relish seeing them try as their Solheim Cup captain. Shes a strong possibility for one of the next two Solheim Cups. Mallon and Rosie Jones also appear locks.
Wie laid the foundation this week for a long and promising Solheim Cup career. In fact, this Solheim Cup may be remembered as the launching pad that elevated Wie to another level.
Wie, 19, played with a fire and passion that shes never exhibited before. Inkster believes it will carry over into the rest of Wies career.
I would bet a large amount of money she is going to win before this year is out, Inkster said.
Wie played fabulously all week, and she started hot Sunday. At the second hole, she watched Alfredsson laser a long iron to 4 feet, setting up an eagle. It looked like an early momentum changer, but Wie trumped her. With a 5-iron from 197 yards, she carved her second shot inside Alfredssons, to 3 feet. After Alfredsson missed her eagle putt, Wie electrified the gallery, dropping her putt dead center.
Racing 3 up through six holes, Wie looked as if she were going to rout Alfredsson, but the veteran Swede fought back to square the match.
Wie has been scrutinized for the inability to close on Sundays, but she showed something fighting back to win.
At the 15th hole, she reached the par 5 with a driver and an 8-iron, hammering her drive 305 yards, leaving her just 153 yards to the pin. She took back the lead with a birdie there.
Nothing was given, Wie said of the Solheim Cup experience. We had to fight hard. The intensity, Ive never felt anything like it before. It was definitely the highlight of my career.
Wie has been accused of being given too much in life, of not having to fight hard enough in golf, but she showed the fight that's inside her all week.
She showed Mallon, an assistant captain, something special when she made it through LPGA Q-School last winter. Mallon, who has known Wie since she was 12, sent a congratulatory text message.
I wanted Michelle to know I was genuinely happy she made it through qualifying school, and she shot me back a text message, Mallon said. Her message was, 'Thank you, and I really want to make the Solheim Cup team. I thought that was neat. I thought, 'She gets it already.
As captains picks go, Wie and Inkster will go down as two of the most memorable in Solheim Cup history.
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