Catriona Matthew Completes Solheim Cup Team With Suzann Pettersen Inclusion

By: | Mon 12 Aug 2019 | Comments


The air is generally tranquil in the heart of Scotland, but there was a minor shock wave pulsating through the rolling hills of Perthshire when European captain Catriona Matthew revealed that Solheim Cup stalwart Suzann Pettersen was one of four wildcard picks at Gleneagles, completing the continental side for next month's contest against the United States.

Surprise as the Norwegian, two-time major champion has been largely absent from the game since missing the 2017 event due to a back injury. Taking a break two Novembers ago to become a mother, the 38-year-old has only played in two events since, failing to make the cut in both. She was set to be a vice-captain, but her elevation to the playing squad represents an injection of experience for a determined, fierce competitor who has played in eight Solheim Cups, though it could be viewed as a calculated gamble in the face of a strong American side.

"It's a massive honour for me to be here and I can't wait, this is what I love. I feel like I was born for this," Pettersen said.
 
"It's been a different role for me the past two years. My life has changed a lot, for the better, but I've missed golf and am very happy to be back in competition."
 
 
Matthew also handed picks to France's Celine Boutier, a winner on the LPGA Tour in January who recently finished in a tie for sixth at the Women's British Open, England's Bronte Law, who enjoyed her winning breakthrough in America earlier this summer, and Jodi Ewart Shadoff, a veteran of 2013 and 2017. Mel Reid - viewed as a contender for a selection - agreed to succeed Pettersen as a vice-captain alongside the great Laura Davies and Kathryn Imrie.
 
On Sunday, the eight automatic qualifiers – Anne van Dam, Charley Hull, Georgia Hall, Carlota Ciganda, Caroline Hedwall, Azahara Munoz, Caroline Masson and Anna Nordqvist – were finalised after the Ladies Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club.
 
The sweet-swinging van Dam is the only rookie among that group, with Spain's Carlota Ciganda the highest ranked European in the world. Sweden's Hedwall famously won all five of her matches in 2013, while English pair Hull and Hall have shown their proficiency for match play in the past. Nordqvist is making her sixth appearance for Europe.

Despite a rich mix of players, the challenge facing the home side is significant. Juli Inkster has led the United States to victory in both 2015 and 2017, and her team will once again be favourites.

For Catriona Matthew, she will be hoping that home soil brings fortune. Europe has won both of the previous Solheim Cups in Scotland, while Paul McGinley's squad triumphed in the Ryder Cup five years ago at Gleneagles. The captain is there to make big calls, and there is no doubt that the inclusion of Pettersen is one of them. It could be a masterstroke.
 
Now the countdown is on to Friday the 13th when the 16th Solheim Cup begins. 

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