Sport Golf

Monday 20 November 2017

Solheim skipper Nicholas thrilled at Monty support


Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

THE European women's team has already received messages of support from Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter ahead of the clash with the USA from September 23-25.

Monty, skipper of the Ryder Cup side that defeated America at Celtic Manor, and Poulter, who played on that team, are backing the European women in their bid to win back the cup at Killeen Castle after three successive defeats.

European captain Alison Nicholas said her players were delighted with the messages as they prepare to take on a star-studded American team.

She also revealed that while no Irish player will compete, the legendary Mary McKenna will be part of the backroom team.

McKenna's playing experience is second to none, and she has also captained GB & Ireland in the Curtis Cup against the USA and in the Vagliano Cup against Europe.

"It's a privilege and an honour to have Mary beside me. She will bring a lot to the team," said Nicholas, who was in Dublin yesterday for the announcement of her four captain's picks to complete the 12-strong team.

Her four selections were Azahara Munoz (23) from Spain, 22-year-old Caroline Hedwall (Sweden), England's Karen Stupples (38) and Sandra Gal (26) from Germany.

All bar Stupples, who played in the 2009 defeat at Rich Harvest Farms, Illinois, are Solheim Cup rookies but all four were the next in line on the world rankings list of those who had not already been selected.

The other eight and their Solheim experience are Melissa Reid (England, rookie), Laura Davies (England, 11 appearances), Suzann Pettersen (Norway, six appearances), Christel Boeljon (Netherlands, rookie), Maria Hjorth (Sweden, five appearances), Anna Nordqvist (Sweden, one appearance), Catriona Matthew (Scotland, six appearances) and Sophie Gustafson (Sweden, seven appearances).

No Irish player came close to challenging for the team, which comprises four from the Ladies European Tour order of merit, four from the Rolex women's world rankings and four captain's picks.

Nicholas, who skippered the European team which lost two years ago, said the process of finalising her selections was difficult but she was heartened by vice-captains Annika Sorenstam and Joanne Morley choosing the same players.

"It was a unanimous decision. I got both of them to write their four picks down and I wrote mine down and they happened to be the same," said Nicholas.

"I'm excited. We have a fantastic team and I'm hoping we can bring the cup back to Europe."

Irish Independent

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