Earned Not Just Given

By Randall MellAugust 2, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 Solheim CupRookie Michelle Wie earned her way onto the U.S. Solheim Cup team.
The American point standings may not say so, but U.S. captain Beth Daniels heart told her as much.
Named Sunday as one of Daniels two captains picks for the Solheim Cup matches Aug. 21-23 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., Wie adds star power to the event as one of the games largest draws, but Daniel insists Wies ability to boost TV and gate attractions isnt the reason she selected her.
Those things had nothing to do with it, Daniel said Sunday in a telephone interview from Lancashire , England, site of the Ricoh Womens British Open. I told everyone that in my mind she earned her way onto the team. If someone had told me to pick Michelle Wie, it would have had no influence over me. I looked at all the stats and whats best for the team. As captain, its my responsibility to field the best 12 players I can.
Wie, 19, joined Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, 49, as captains picks.
Wie finished 13th on the final U.S. Solheim Cup points standings, notable because as a rookie she had just this season to earn her points in the two-year Solheim Cup cycle. Wie was sixth among Americans in points earned this year. Wies five top-10 finishes were better than any other player in contention for a captains pick. Daniel said Wies LPGA ranking this season as No. 1 in birdie average and co-No. 1 in putting also were factors.
It was one of my biggest goals this year, and I'm just so excited to be wearing this jacket and this hat and to be representing my country, Wie said during the announcement. Its such a thrill for me. I'm just so honored and so thankful that Beth picked me, and I'll do my best not to let her down.
Paula Creamer was the leading point earner among the 10 Americans who earned automatic roster spots. Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Nicole Castrale, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel , Kristy McPherson, Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome and Natalie Gulbis earned the other spots.
Wie joins Lang and McPherson as Solheim Cup rookies.
We have some experience in the Solheim Cup on this team, but in terms of age, we have a very young team, Daniel said. And to me, that's really exciting, because this is the future of American golf, and it's a pretty exciting future.
Inkster will be the oldest competitor in Solheim Cup history. Throw her out, and the average age of the American squad is 26.0.
Daniels two captains picks were about youthful firepower and savvy veteran leadership.
While Inkster hasnt recorded a top-10 finish this season, she brings a wealth of experience as a 31-time LPGA winner whose 14-8-5 record in seven Solheim Cups gives her more victories than any American in the history of the event. Her 16 points equals Meg Mallon for most among Americans.
Juli brings so many intangibles, Daniel said. Shes respected by the kids on the team, and she has so much match-play knowledge. She also brings leadership qualities.
In choosing Wie and Inkster , Daniel skipped over Solheim Cup veteran Pat Hurst, who won the MasterCard Classic in March. Hurst , though, went cold this summer, failing to finish better than a tie for 40th in her last 10 starts.
It was unbelievably tough to leave Pat off, and it just killed me, Daniel said. Definitely, this was the worst part of the job.
The United States , which has never lost the Solheim Cup on its home soil (5-0), will be heavily favored against the Europeans. The Americans have eight players ranked among the top 30 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings, twice as many as the Europeans.
European Captain Alison Nicholas squad will feature Norways Suzann Pettersen as its highest ranked player at No. 6 in the world rankings.
Englands Laura Davies will tee it up for the 11th time in the Solheim Cup, making her the only player to compete in every Solheim Cup staged. Shes the events all-time leading point winner with 23 points.
Swedens Helen Alfredsson earned her eighth Solheim Cup appearance off the world rankings list, her seventh appearance as a player. She is the first in Solheim Cup history to make the team as a player after serving as captain. Alfredsson was captain when Europe fell two years ago in Sweden .
Frances Gwladys Nocera , Spains Tania Elosegui, Italys Diana Luna and Swedens Sophie Gustafson made the team off the Ladies European Tour points list. Scotlands Catriona Matthew, winner of Sundays Ricoh Womens British Open, and Swedens Maria Hjorth made the team off the world rankings list.
Nicholas named Swedens Anna Nordqvist, Scotlands Janice Moodie and Wales Becky Brewerton as her three captains picks. Nordqvist won the McDonalds LPGA Championship in June.
Related Links: /lpga/2009-the-solheim-cup/overview/
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