Europe captain Catriona Matthew insists she has not taken a gamble with her wild card selections for next month’s Solheim Cup.
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen has been picked to make her ninth appearance in the biennial contest despite having played just twice since November 2017, while Jodi Ewart Shadoff was also selected even though she underwent a minor back operation last week.
“Bring it on” was Pettersen’s defiant message to those who might question her selection, while Matthew added: “It’s not a gamble, not at all. I am 100 per cent confident in that pick.
“Suzann brings variations in partnerships, she can play either format. That experience, knowing I could rely on her to step up in the heat of the moment, means for me it was an easy pick.”
Pettersen took all of 2018 off to have a baby and only returned to action last month, partnering Matthew in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Michigan, where the pair missed the cut.
The 38-year-old also missed the cut in last week’s ASI Ladies Scottish Open, where the eight automatic qualifiers – Anne Van Dam, Charley Hull, Georgia Hall, Carlota Ciganda, Caroline Hedwall, Azahara Munoz, Caroline Masson and Anna Nordqvist – were finalised.
England’s Bronte Law, who won her first LPGA Tour title earlier this year, and France’s Celine Boutier – who recorded top-six finishes in the US Open and British Open – received the other two wild cards.
Let's go #TeamEurope 👊🏻🇪🇺@carlotagolf 🇪🇸 @Annevandam 🇳🇱 Caroline Hedwall 🇸🇪 @HullCharley 🏴 @georgiahall96 🏴 @AzaharaGOLF 🇪🇸 @CaroMasson 🇩🇪 @ANordqvist 🇸🇪 @suzannpettersen 🇳🇴@Jodi_Ewart 🏴@brontemaylaw 🏴@celineboutier 🇫🇷#ItAllLeadsToThisMoment #SolheimCup2019 pic.twitter.com/AXyCas1rGl
— Solheim Cup Team Europe (@SolheimCupEuro) August 12, 2019
With Pettersen chosen to play rather than be a vice-captain, England’s Mel Reid joins Dame Laura Davies and Kathryn Imrie in Matthew’s backroom staff.
“I was honoured to be a vice-captain but I would much rather play,” said Pettersen, who coincidentally missed the 2017 Solheim Cup through injury and was replaced in the team by Matthew.
“It’s been a different role for me the last 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.
“I’m delighted I got the thumbs up from Beany (Matthew) that she wanted me on the team. 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.
“If I felt my game wasn’t up to it I’d have told her straight to her face to pick someone else. When you feel like your game is there, and she wants you to play, then I’m more than happy to take it.”
A post shared by Suzann Pettersen (@suzannpettersen) on Aug 12, 2019 at 6:17am PDT
Pettersen’s selection will also have raised eyebrows for another reason after her key role in a controversial incident on the final day in 2015 which sparked a brilliant fightback from the United States.
In the final fourball match carried over from Saturday, Pettersen and Hull were all square with two holes to play against Brittany Lincicome and Alison Lee.
Lee missed a birdie putt to win the 17th and, after the ball finished two feet behind the hole, scooped it up with her putter thinking it either had been, or was certain to be, conceded.
Hull gave that impression as she was already walking across the front of the green towards the 18th tee, but Pettersen said they had not conceded the putt and therefore won the hole.
European captain Carin Koch approached the match referee on the 18th to ask if there was anything she could do and was told they could concede the hole, but opted not to after Pettersen insisted she was not going to concede Lee’s putt.
Hull, who was 19 at the time, and 20-year-old rookie Lee were reduced to tears as heated discussions took place around the green, with visiting captain Juli Inkster wanting to lead some of her team in a chant of “Europeans suck”, before they opted for “Class, style, U-S-A.”
Inkster, who will again captain the side at Gleneagles, saw her side recover from 10-6 down to win by a single point and they easily retained the trophy in Des Moines, Iowa, two years ago.
“I have obviously learned from it,” Pettersen said. “In the heat of the moment my head wasn’t thinking clear enough to be able to change what happened there and then. I don’t think anyone else was either until they had some time away to be able to think more of it.
“Hopefully it won’t happen again. I don’t want any other players to go through what I ended up having to go through. But, if there was one player who could probably take that load, I was probably the one on the European team.
“It was tough, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”