A decorated professional career including four successive Solheim Cup appearances and the playing of a key role in the event heading to Toledo has not been sufficient to earn Stacy Lewis a berth on the United States team for their upcoming joust with Europe. Lewis, overlooked for a captain’s pick, will instead take on assistant captaincy duties at the Inverness Club.
Lewis’s omission was the most notable aspect of wildcard selections as made by Pat Hurst for the US and Catriona Matthew for Europe. Hurst added Brittany Altomare, Mina Harigae and Yealimi Noh to automatic qualifiers Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Ally Ewing, Austin Ernst, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Megan Khang, Lizette Salas and Jennifer Kupcho. With Emily Pedersen, Georgia Hall, Anna Nordqvist, Sophia Popov, Charley Hull and Carlota Ciganda having sealed Europe’s automatic berths, Matthew turned to Leona Maguire, Madelene Sagstrom, Matilda Castren, Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Mel Reid and Céline Boutier.
The event, which tees off on 4 September, promises to be bittersweet for two-times major champion Lewis. The 36-year-old, born in Toledo, had been involved in discussions that triggered the event being staged in Inverness. “It was a little tough but I also didn’t play well enough,” said Lewis of the news from Hurst that she would not play. “If you want to be on the team, you can’t rely on a pick. I knew I didn’t play the way I wanted to, but to still just to be a part of it … it’s going to be so cool in Toledo, and just to know I was part of why we’re there, I basically got us to that point, so to be a part of it is still going to be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to the other side of it and working with these girls.
“I told Pat: I would be there however she wanted me to be there.”
On Lewis, Hurst said: “We’ve been talking off and on for the last few months. She was involved in all of our team-bonding stuff and practice. She was involved with all the stuff we were doing with the teams and then I talked to her for the final say of what we were going to do.” Lewis has slipped to 57th in the world having recorded one win since 2017 but it should be noted that Harigae is 61st.
Matthew’s selection of Madsen will be a relief to the 26-year-old Dane, after a painful capitulation at the Women’s Open on Sunday. Madsen was tied with the eventual winner, Nordqvist, playing the final hole at Carnoustie but a ghastly double bogey caused her to finish in a share of fifth.
“It was tough telling her [about the pick] afterwards because you could tell she was so disappointed with her finish,” Matthew said. “Hopefully looking back she’ll realise she had a great finish and it was her first time really up there with a real chance of winning. The boost of getting into Solheim will hopefully help.”
Matthew pointed to the wisdom of Reid, who missed the Carnoustie cut. Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen started Women’s Open week in the automatic qualifying places and finished the major in a tie for 26th but was still left out by Matthew. The captain, who branded Nuutinen “unlucky”, said of Reid: “She perhaps hasn’t been playing her best the last kind of month, but with the Olympics there’s been a lot of travelling and different things and she hasn’t been home in a long time. With her experience and playing in it before, she’ll pick up and be ready for Solheim.”
Maguire will become the first player from Ireland to play in a Solheim Cup. “Obviously the men have been doing well the last few years with Shane [Lowry], Rory [McIlroy], Pádraig [Harrington] and Darren [Clarke],” Matthew said. “It is nice to see Leona kind of coming to the forefront and climbing those world rankings. Hopefully that will encourage young Irish girls to come up when they have a good role model like Leona to see.”
Some things are decidedly more familiar: the US are firm favourites to reclaim the cup in Ohio.