Michelle Wie, Juli Inkster picked as wild cards on US Solheim Cup team

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wie, Inkster on US Solheim Cup team

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — Michelle Wie was selected as a wild card to make her Solheim Cup debut for the United States on Sunday, and Catriona Matthew made Europe’s team after capturing the Women’s British Open.

American captain Beth Daniel also picked Juli Inkster, who will make her eighth Solheim Cup appearance and at 49 will become the oldest player to compete in the matches.

Wie and Inkster did not earn enough points to get a top-10 place for the Aug. 21-23 series at Sugar Grove, Ill.

“I am so honored, so thrilled,” Wie said. “I am so excited to be wearing this jacket and this hat and to be representing my country is such a thrill for me. I am so honored that Beth picked me and I will do my best not to let her down.”

Wie and Inkster will team with Paula Creamer, Christie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Nicole Castrale, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel, Kristy McPherson, Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome and Natalie Gulbis.

“I’ve been nudging her,” Wie said. “I have been badgering her a bit. It was one of my biggest goals this year.”

Matthew is joined on the Europe team by Gwladys Nocera (France), Tania Elosegui (Spain), Diana Luna (Italy), Laura Davies (England), Sophie Gustafson (Sweden), Suzann Pettersen (Norway), Helen Alfredsson (Sweden), Maria Hjorth (Sweden), Becky Brewerton (Wales, wild card), Janice Moodie (Scotland, wild card) and Anna Nordqvist (Sweden, wild card).

Wie was told she made the team about two hours after her 69 at the Women’s British Open gave her a share of 11th place.

“That was a lot longer than I wanted,” said Wie, who moved up to 13th from 16th on the points list after the tournament.

The 19-year-old from Hawaii only became eligible for points when she became an LPGA Tour member this year, putting her at a disadvantage with the qualifying period beginning after the last Solheim Cup in 2007.

Daniel said Wie had earned her spot.

“She definitely deserved it,” Daniel said. “She only had the opportunity to play less tournaments than everybody else and she still kept moving up in the points. She earned her way on to the team.

“I looked at pretty much every stat I could look at but I kind of had my ‘What have they done recently?’ factor. And that was a big determining factor for me because I’ve said all along I want the hottest players I could get coming into the event, and she is definitely one of the hottest players.”

Inkster was pleased to be selected but would have preferred to have qualified directly.

“I was sorry I didn’t play my way onto the team, but I’m happy that Beth and the team have confidence in me,” she said.

Inkster will need only a half-point to set the U.S. record for most Solheim Cup points. She is tied with Meg Mallon at 16½.

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