Wie, Piller earn Mallon's U.S. Solheim picks
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland Meg Mallon believes in Michelle Wie. She showed the world that when she selected Wie as one of two captain’s picks for the Solheim Cup team. Mallon hopes this will pan out the way Greg Norman’s Adam Scott pick for the 2009 President’s Cup lifted the young Australian.
“I just feel like I believe in her so much and believe in the player she is and the person she is that hopefully this will be the stepping stone for her,” said Mallon, who will lead the charge outside Denver Aug. 16-18.
Mallon’s second pick was Gerina Piller, a long-bombing Texan who, like Wie, will fare well in the altitude on a wide-open course like Colorado Golf Club. Piller described the moment she found out as an absolute dream – while Wie said she immediately broke down in tears.
“I haven’t eaten since 8 a.m.,” said Wie. “My stomach was in knots. Lesson learned. I’m never going to put myself in this situation again.”
On the European side, 17-year-old Charley Hull got the nod from captain Liselotte Neumann. It was a changing of the guard type of moment with 49-year-old Laura Davies left off the team for the first time in Solheim Cup history, and Hull becoming the youngest player in event history.
“I find her energetic, fearless and I think she’s just a great competitor,” Neumann said of Hull. Neumann captained Hull in the Junior Solheim Cup two years ago in Ireland.
Neumann’s other selections were two rookies – Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Giulia Sergas – along with the powerful Swede, Caroline Hedwall, who shone brightly two years ago in Ireland.
Four players qualified for the European team off of the points list: Suzann Pettersen, Carlota Ciganda, Catriona Matthew and Caroline Masson. Four more qualified off the Rolex Rankings: Beatriz Recari, Anna Nordqvist, Karine Icher and Azahara Munoz.
“We’ve got some young girls on here; we’ve got some rookies; we’ve got some big, strong players, and some players that can really hit it, which I favors (us),” said Neumann.
Europe has never won on American soil.
Mallon’s squad was up in the air until the back nine Sunday as Morgan Pressel’s performance in Scotland (T-4) moved her into one of two spots that qualified off of the Rolex Rankings. She passed up Jennifer Johnson, one of only three Americans who have won on tour this year.
Rookie Lizette Salas took the other spot from the Rolex Rankings. The eight who qualified off of points list include: Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda and Brittany Lang.
Europe will have six rookies and the U.S. will have four. Mallon feels the two squads represent the present and future of the Solheim Cup, and it looks strong.
But back to Wie, who has only two top-10 finishes to her credit this season. Mallon knows Wie can handle a big stage and she didn’t want to leave someone who could make five or six birdies a round sitting at home on the couch. In an experienced Wie, Mallon felt she got added leadership.
Beth Daniel also made Wie a captain’s pick in 2009 and the Hawaiian put on quite the show at Rich Harvest Farms, going 3-0-1. It was the first time Wie was able to bond with players for days on end, sans the entourage.
“She is under a microscope every single day she plays, and frankly the way she handles herself is incredible,” Mallon said. “I know being home in the States, having these big crowds, that she can handle that better than anyone, and she has no fear.”