Rising star Walshe gives Solheim Cup boost to Ireland
Published 09/01/2010 | 05:00
IRELAND'S chances of having at least one player on the Solheim Cup team to play the USA at Killeen Castle next year have been boosted by Alison Walshe's official declaration for Ireland.
Walshe (24) was born in Galway but grew up in Massachusetts after her family emigrated when she was very young.
She actually played for the USA against GB and Ireland in the 2008 Curtis Cup at St Andrews, and was unbeaten in her four matches as the USA retained the trophy.
Walshe turned pro after the Curtis Cup. She has an LPGA Tour Card for a number of events in 2010 and also gained her Ladies European Tour qualifications.
How good is she? Well, Walshe created national headlines in America for her performances on behalf of the University of Arizona women's golf team -- so much so that she was rated as arguably the best female golfer to emerge from that college since graduates Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa.
Walshe's trademark is hard work and steady improvement and after a debut season plying her trade on the Duramed Futures Tour in the USA, she has set up a schedule of LPGA tournaments, LET events, and some Duramed tournaments for 2010.
She is also seeking funding from the Team Ireland Trust and will be invited to play in the AIB Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle from August 6-8.
Roddy Carr of Twenty Eleven, the company which is promoting the Solheim Cup event in Ireland, is very excited about Walshe's status.
"We knew she was Irish-born and the key factor was whether she would qualify for the US Solheim Cup team.
"That has now been clarified. Unless you are born in the USA, you can't play for the Americans in the Solheim Cup. Alison's manager, Eddie Smith, is a friend of Christy O'Connor Junior and we were aware of her links with Galway as her birthplace and where her relatives still live.
"She will be playing a number of LET events, and will be at the Ladies Irish Open.
"The great thing is that Rebecca Coakley has been making great strides on the Ladies Tour in the last year, and with Alison Walshe on board, we have two very strong candidates who hopefully will be contending for places on the European Team.
"People in Ireland may not be aware yet of just how big the Solheim Cup is, but at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois last autumn and in Sweden in 2007, the attendances were huge and the atmosphere was amazing.
"It's a terrific event and we would love to see at least one Irish player on the team, so the challenge is there for Alison and Rebecca and I'm sure they will do all they can to get into captain Alison Nicholas' side," said Carr.
Walshe and Coakley will start their campaign next month when the LET season opens with tournaments in Australia and New Zealand.