Nicholas hoping for green Solheim side
EUROPEAN Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas (right) threw out a challenge to the Irish players as they prepare for the AIB Ladies Irish Open.
Nicholas and rival captain Rosie Jones were at Killeen Castle yesterday in advance of this week's tournament on the course where the biennial Europe versus USA match takes place in 2011.
Both captains are clearly relishing their role even though the big match is over a year away, but in terms of Irish hopes, Nicholas stressed that sentiment will have no place in her team.
The European skipper, whose team will hope to win the cup for the first time since 2003, has four captain's picks and she won't give them away lightly.
"It would be great if an Irish player got into the team. There's over a year to go, but I've got to see some form," said Nicholas.
"Hopefully they (the Irish players) will play well over the next year and that will obviously be an added bonus. But I've got to pick the best team. That's my job as captain."
Nicholas relishes the chance of a home match as she skippered the side that lost 16-12 to the USA last autumn.
Jones played seven times in the Solheim Cup and her last competitive appearance in Ireland was in the 1984 Ladies Irish Open at Clandeboye, which was won by Kathy Whitworth.
Jones, known in her playing career as a passionate and fiery competitor before retiring in 2006, now has a company that takes groups of women on golfing trips.
She played Killeen Castle last week so she got a good look at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course and will return to the United States today.
"It's a beautiful golf course, a Nicklaus design, and that's lucky for us because it looks familiar. The American players will be very comfortable on it, so that's not so much a disadvantage for us," she said.
Jones is in charge of a team seeking a four-in-a-row and she is greatly encouraged by Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr winning the US Women's Open and the LPGA Championship respectively. "The way the team is shaping up now I couldn't be more happy," Jones added.