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Solheim eligibility criteria changing for U.S. team

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This year’s Solheim Cup will mark the last time American team members must be born in the United States to be eligible to play.

Alison Walshe was born in Ireland, but she will become eligible to play for the United States when the Solheim Cup is staged in 2015 in Germany, based on new rule changes the LPGA just adopted.

Under current rules, a player must be born in the United States to play for the American team. LPGA players were informed of new eligibility criteria during a meeting in the Bahamas last week. Under the LPGA’s new rules, U.S. Solheim Cup eligibility is expanded to also include:

• A player born under U.S. citizenship. That means a player who is born outside the United States but is the child of a U.S. citizen now becomes eligible.

• A player who becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen before the age of 18.

• A player who becomes a U.S. citizen via adoption to U.S. parents by the age of 13.

Walshe, a fourth year LPGA pro, was born in Ireland, but her family moved to the United States when Walshe was 3. She holds dual citizenship. She was raised in Westford, Mass., and became a naturalized U.S. citizen before her 18th birthday. She played for the American Curtis Cup squad that defeated Great Britain & Ireland at St. Andrews in 2008. Stacy Lewis and Amanda Blumenherst also played on that team. Walshe also played on the U.S. Women’s World Amateur team in ’08.

“We’ve been discussing this for awhile,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s senior vice president of tour operations. “We look at all our policies regularly. This puts us more in line with the PGA of America and the U.S. men’s Ryder Cup team.”

The PGA of America’s rules allow players who become naturalized U.S. citizens before the age of 18 to qualify for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Daly-Donofrio said the new LPGA rule changes enable players who spent their formative years in the United States a chance to play for the American Solheim Cup team provided they meet the eligibility criteria.