Nicholas Retained as Europe's Solheim Cup Captain for Killeen Castle in 2011
by LET, LadiesEuropeanTour.com
(Killeen Castle, Ireland -- 24th November 2009) – The Ladies European Tour is thrilled to announce that Alison Nicholas will lead The European Solheim Cup Team as Captain for a second term at Killeen Castle in Ireland in 2011.
Nicholas was selected following a unanimous decision by the European Solheim Cup Committee, comprising the Ladies European Tour representatives, Players' Council and past captains.
The Committee felt that the experience Nicholas gained at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois three months ago was invaluable and she deserved to be re-appointed.
“I'm absolutely delighted,” said Nicholas at a press conference at Killeen Castle on Tuesday. “It's a great honour and privilege to be a captain at home. I loved the experience at Rich Harvest Farms and I thought we were going to do it; I really did! That's why I'm confident for Ireland because I'm confident in my players. From what I understand it was a unanimous decision so it was very pleasing for me.”
Alexandra Armas, Executive Director of the Ladies European Tour, explained: “Alison was a natural choice for the selection committee as she was such an inspirational figure at Rich Harvest Farms. Although Europe lost the match, Alison had her team extremely well prepared and we are convinced that she will give Europe the best chance of winning back the trophy in Ireland.”
John A Solheim, Chairman and CEO of PING, the founding sponsor and global partner of the event, echoed those sentiments. “I was excited to hear that the LET has selected Alison Nicholas as the European Solheim Cup Captain in 2011. Watching Alison's intensity at Rich Harvest Farms, I am confident that she will have the European squad ready for competition at Killeen Castle for the 2011 Solheim Cup,” he said.
The winner of the U.S. Open in 1997, Nicholas made six straight Solheim Cup appearances as a player and was on the European team when it triumphed in Scotland in 1992 and 2000. She retired from tournament play in 2004, but was involved in the competition as Catrin Nilsmark's assistant captain in 2003 and in 2005.
On her debut as Captain at Rich Harvest Farms in 2009, the Americans kept their untarnished home record intact with a 16 to 12 final score against the Europeans and now lead the competition 8-3.
However, Nicholas, from Birmingham in England, feels confident that Europe can stage a comeback at Killeen Castle in County Meath, from 23-25th September, 2011.
“I'm confident because I think we gave them a run for their money at Rich Harvest Farms and the difference between the two teams is very close, as we proved. We've got two years to go and there are some good young players on the European Tour. I think they will come into their own over the next two years and we'll have some youngsters to fight those young American players. We've a lot of very, very good players. They just need to believe in themselves a bit more,” she said.
In a move to make the European team more competitive, there will be new selection criteria in place for the 2011 match. The European team will comprise the top four players from the Ladies European Tour's Solheim Cup standings, the next four highest ranked eligible players from the Rolex Rankings and four captain's selections, meaning one more wildcard pick.
The current system was reviewed by the Committee and Captain, with the feeling that the small changes would give the European Team the best chance to win The Cup back.
“It just gives me a little bit more freedom,” added Nicholas. “I think it worked out well this year; we had some very good players from Europe who competed very well at The Solheim Cup but I think an extra pick just gives me some more choice.”
2010 AIB LADIES IRISH OPEN supported by FAILTE IRELAND TO BE PLAYED AT KILLEEN CASTLE IN AUGUST
At the press conference, the Ladies European Tour also announced that players will have the opportunity to play The Solheim Cup course next year, as the AIB Ladies Irish Open supported by Failte Ireland is scheduled to be played at Killeen Castle from 6-8th August, 2010.
The 2010 AIB Ladies Irish Open, with a prize fund of €500,000, will provide the only opportunity for players from both sides of the Atlantic to test their skills on the future Solheim Cup venue ahead of the 2011 matches in a competitive environment.
The event will take place immediately following the Ricoh Women's British Open on 6-8th August, which is currently a free week on the LPGA calendar and is therefore expected to attract an extremely strong field of international competitors from all over the world.
“Killeen Castle and its members look forward to offering a warm Irish welcome to the best lady players in the world over the next two years for the AIB Ladies Irish Open and The 2011 Solheim Cup,” said Barry O'Connor, General Manager of Killeen Castle. “The Signature course which represents the latest in the Nicklaus design philosophy is one of the finest stadium venues anywhere in the world. The 600 acre estate has the added attraction of having a Dave Pelz Short Game School on site, fishing lakes and the magnificent 800 year old Killeen Castle as a backdrop to many fine holes on the course”.
The Irish organisers are pulling out all the stops to make the next Solheim Cup the best ever when Europe and the United States battle it out at Killeen Castle in 667 days time.
Alison Nicholas Factfile
1962 – Born in Gibraltar on 6th March
1984 – Turned professional
1987 – Earned first tournament victory at the Weetabix Women's British Open
1990 – Played first Solheim Cup match at Lake Nona in Florida
1992 – Played on winning European Solheim Cup side at Dalmahoy
1996 – Winner Ladies Irish Open at City West, Dublin
1997 – Won US Open Championship by a stroke over Nancy Lopez
1999 – Claimed 18th and final career tournament victory at Sunrise Hawaiian Ladies Open
2000 - Played on winning European Solheim Cup side at Loch Lomond
2003 – Vice captain to Catrin Nilsmark when Europe won at Barseback
2004 – Stepped away from competition after 20 years on Tour
2005 – Vice captain to Catrin Nilsmark at Crooked Stick, Indianapolis
2009 – European Solheim Cup Captain at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois in August. In November, named Europe's Solheim Cup Captain for Killeen Castle in Ireland in 2011
The Solheim Cup General Information
The Solheim Cup is a biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition featuring the best U.S.-born players from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour and the best European members from the Ladies European Tour (LET). The U.S. Team leads the competition, 8-3, and has never lost The Solheim Cup on home soil. In 2009, the Americans kept their untarnished home record intact at Rich Harvest Farms with a 16 to 12 final score against the Europeans. The 2011 Solheim Cup will be played from 23-25 September, 2011, at Killeen Castle, County Meath, Ireland. For more information, please log on to www.SolheimCup.com.
Killeen Castle, the ancestral home of the Earls of Fingal, sits in a wooded estate in 600 acres in Dunsany, Co. Meath. Set in the historic grounds of one of Ireland's oldest and finest 12th century Norman castles, the estate at Killeen Castle is home to a unique development of supreme quality residences discreetly positioned among the natural woodlands of the demesne and throughout which the magnificent Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course winds. Jack Nicklaus, course designer at Killeen Castle, said: “As the course designer, I am proud to be part of what is happening at Killeen Castle. It is phenomenal, what with the castle as a focal point. You have wonderful facilities to stage The Solheim Cup or the Ryder Cup in the future. It is a very strong course and will be nicely matured for 2011.”
Located just north of Dunshaughlin in the heart of Royal Meath overlooked by the ancient Hill of Tara, Killeen Castle is just minutes from the picturesque hamlet of Dunsany. Killeen Castle offers all the joys of true country living, yet it is only 35 minutes from Dublin International Airport and 45 minutes from Dublin city centre. The golfing facilities are augmented by a 30,000 sq ft stand alone modern purpose built clubhouse, with parking facilities in an old wall garden setting for 260 cars. In the context of holding The Solheim Cup, the venue provides ample room (500 acres) for public village and hospitality facilities, a television compound, grandstands and spectator traffic flow, all adjacent to the dramatic 18th hole. Killeen Castle is soon to be complemented by a luxury hotel and spa. For more information, visit the club's website, www.killeencastle.com.