I don’t know if making the two wildcard picks is the hardest part of being Solheim Cup captain, but it is certainly the most unpleasant because you have to tell some very deserving players that they are not going to be on the team. That was certainly the case this year. When it came time to make my picks I had to consider experience.
There is no question that over the last two years, several girls played well enough to be on the team. But playing a road game in Scotland with five rookies on my team, I had to look at experience.
Between the two of them, Pressel and Lewis have played in nine Solheim Cups. That’s as many as the other 10 players combined. They are both very consistent players with great short games and they each bring a little bit of a calming factor to the team. Their presence in the team room will be as important as their presence on the golf course.
That said, I feel great about my team. And it says great things about the future of American golf that so many deserving players are so young. There is no shortage of talent in American women’s golf right now. It’s a great problem to have more than enough players good enough to be on the team, although it is a crushing experience for those who get passed over.
My five Solheim Cup rookies may be making their first appearance in the competition, but they are far from inexperienced. Nelly Korda, Marina Alex, Megan Khang, Brittany Altomare and Annie Park all know how to handle pressure and I have no doubt they will rise to the occasion. Danielle Kang, Jessica Korda and Angel Yin have played one Solheim Cup each and each have won points for the USA.
The two veterans who got automatic spots are Lexi Thompson and Lizette Salas, who will both be competing for the fourth time. You throw Morgan and Stacy into the mix and I have a very deep, very talented squad to put onto the golf course. I’m excited about this team.
Another real big thing about Morgan and Stacy is that the other players wanted them. The other 10 players all talked about that and that's huge for me. I'm not playing. It's what my players want. To have your peers want you I think is a big compliment to both of them.
We haven't won in Scotland, but I really like the makeup of my team. Both teams have some long-hitters that are going to be really fun to watch, especially in four-ball play. On our side, Angel, Lexi, Jessica and Nelly are all among the top-13 in driving distance on the LPGA.
We have a lot of players that just like to play golf and like to compete. They're not really there for the fluff. They're there to represent the USA, and I'm really excited to have these rookies on my team. I think they're going to bring a lot to the team locker room.
In some ways, it can help the rookies to be playing an away game. When everybody is chanting “USA! USA!” it can get a little bit overwhelming. When it's just you and your partner out there, I think you settle in a little bit more as a team.
When I was a rookie I just wanted to get on the golf course and play. But we are over there for five days before we play. I think my job is to say, “Get out there and see the golf course, get your rest, have some fun.” It's not all about golf. I just don't want them to wear themselves out before we tee it up on Friday.
I can also help them understand that this is a team experience. I remember having a teammate and that it was so cool to talk to them. The caddies are also a big part of the team. We like to include them in everything we do because they really get us through what we're trying to accomplish. It's hard with the emotions and pressure. They try to help keep us all level-headed.
It’s just amazing how big the Solheim Cup has become, how big women’s sports has become. We have Solheim Cup groupies now. I can't tell you how many LPGA tournaments I go to and people come up and say, “We're coming to Scotland.” That's awesome. I love hearing that.
It's gotten to be like a soccer match. It's not golf where you have to have the golf clap. You can get out there and you can chant and cheer for your team. That to me is what the Solheim Cup is about. I can’t wait to get there.