I studied harder for this than any time in school, U.S. captain Sheehan told me Tuesday. The stats were so close.
A little background: The Solheim Cup matches will be played Sept. 12-14 in Sweden. Ten Americans qualified on points Sunday. Sheehan chose Kuehne and Heather Bowie, who finished 12th in the point standings, as her captains picks.
The Kuehne selection over Hurst was difficult because their records were so close. Kuehne had finished 16th on the point standings, Hurst 17th. But there was a strong case to be made for Hurst and Sheehan knew it. I love Pat Hurst, Sheehan said. I think the world of her.
Hursts previous Solheim Cup record (6-4-1) is far superior to Kuehnes (0-3-0). And she has made more money than Kuehne this year while hitting more greens in regulation.
So why Kelli Kuehne for the last spot?
Kelli brings an energy and enthusiasm, Sheehan said. She gives us that intangible that we dont have a whole lot of on our team.
I asked Sheehan if that meant she was hoping Kuehne would bring the kind of energy that Dottie Pepper'still not quite healthy enough to play on this years team'used to deliver. Sheehan said that wasnt the case.
Meanwhile there was the matter of delivering the bad news to Hurst and other players under consideration. Sheehan didnt shirk her responsibility. She reached Hurst by phone at the airport after Sundays Wachovia LPGA Classic hosted by Betsy King.
It was a short conversation, Sheehan said candidly. I got right to it and said, Pat, Im not going to pick you. She said, OK. I know she was upset and her caddie was upset and Im sure her husband was upset.
Other players under consideration included Danielle Ammaccapane and Kate Golden. They, too, heard from Sheehan.
Last week Bob Estes, 12th on the points list for the American Presidents Cup team, was disappointed that he heard first from his mother before Nicklaus could reach him to let him know he wouldnt be on that team.
There was even more potential for this kind of controversy on the European Solheim Cup team because captain Catrin Nilsmark had five captains choices. Three of those choices'Catriona Matthew, Janice Moodie and Carin Koch'didnt even finish in the top 18 of the European standings.
And that second-guessing will continue, probably right up until the matches begin. There will be even more if those players dont perform well in the event.
For her part, Sheehan showed her diplomatic side when asked to comment on Nilsmarks picks. Those are the five I would have picked, she said.