Captain Helen Alfredsson has announced her team for the Solheim Cup next month. Laura Davies will make a remarkable 10th appearance, becoming the only player to have competed in every competition. Fellow veteran Trish Johnson is a winner on the Ladies European Tour this season, as is Catriona Matthew, who captured the Scandinavian TPC Hosted by Annika the week after the Ricoh Womens British Open. Gladys Nocera, Sophie Gustafson, Annika Sorenstam and Suzann Pettersen all bring experience in the matches, with Gustafson and Sorenstam no doubt delighting the home galleries in Sweden.
The other two automatic qualifiers were Bettina Hauert and Becky Brewerton, both of whom play all of their golf on the LET. Hauert is a winner this season, as is Brewerton, who captured her maiden title in Ireland last month. Remarkably, Brewerton becomes the first Welsh player to compete in the Solheim Cup, some 11 years after the event was staged on Welsh soil.
Captain Alfredsson then made the team up to 12 with three captains picks: Maria Hjorth, Iben Tinning and Linda Wessberg were announced on Tuesday in a press conference in Stockholm. Hjorth and Tinning are experienced Solheim campaigners having played in five between them; Wessberg joins Brewerton and Hauert in making her first appearance. It seems the Ricoh Womens British Open performances of both Wessberg and Hjorth made a big impact on the decision making. Hjorth finished tied for second, with Wessberg playing in the final group with Lorena Ochoa, eventually finishing tied 7th.
I agree with the Hjorth pick; shes ranked No. 1 on the New Star Money List in Europe and Wessberg also seems to make sense having won this year and having played a bit on the LPGA Tour, where she is non-exempt and currently 66th on the Money List from 10 events. The big surprise comes in Iben Tinning, a player ranked 18th in Europe, 148th in the world rankings, and without a win since 2005. Granted, she does have Solheim experience and gave birth to her son, Mads, in the March last year, but I think players like Rebecca Hudson, Mhairi McKay, Janice Moodie and Karen Stupples will be bitterly disappointed with that decision.
Europeans Banking on Good Finishes at The Barclays:
Fourteen European players will tee it up in the inaugural event of the FedExCup Playoffs. I believe, though, that because of the way these playoffs work, only about four have a realistic chance of actually pulling off the $10 million victory after the TOUR Championship. They would be: Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose. They must sneak a top-5 finish and a victory over The Barclays and Deutsche Bank stretch to keep their dreams alive, because I dont see Tiger giving away much ground.
Ive been on the Rose bandwagon all season; so far he hasnt produced me a victory in the U.S., but what a time this would be to do it! His record this year is tremendous; if you take the world rankings purely for 2007, he would be No.2 behind Woods. Hes also ranked second on the European Tour Order of Merit, behind Padraig Harrington. And despite not winning he has one of the best records in the 2007 majors.
Dinwiddie Done Good:
Robert Dinwiddie, not a name you will be too familiar with -- readers in North Carolina and England may have a few bells ringing -- but you might just be hearing this name a lot more over the next few years. Dinwiddie is a former Walker Cup player from England, who went to the University of North Carolina and subsequently has made his home in the Tar Heel State. He Monday qualified for the Wachovia Championship this season, but missed the cut in his first PGA TOUR start. Hes played the majority of his rookie season on the European Challenge Tour and after a solid start to the year -- his best finish being tied 3rd -- he went out and won the last two events. Last week in Geneva he carded a 63 to snatch the Rolex Trophy title from overnight leader Ross McGowan.
Dinwiddie has been working with U.S.-based Englishman Nick Bradley, who tells me the pair began their work in March of this year. Immediately I saw he had fine pedigree he said, all we needed to do was tighten a few things up. The work must have been paying off as Dinwiddie is now second on the Challenge Tour Rankings and just one more win away from automatic promotion to the European Tour. Bradley told me this week that there is no doubt in his mind that Dinwiddie will be a European Tour winner in his career. After an exciting couple of weeks, Robert, whos 24, has returned to Charlotte for some rest. His next outing on the Challenge Tour is set for the ECCO Tour Championship, in Denmark next week.
Tom Abbott will host live coverage of the LPGA Tours Safeway Classic, beginning Friday at 9 p.m. on GOLF CHANNEL (Sky Digital Channel 423)
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