Davies puts in double effort

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The Independent Online
When Seve Ballesteros took over as captain of the European Ryder Cup team, he requested four wild card selections. It was rejected on the basis that, having won with two last year, the situation should remain unchanged. Mickey Walker, his counterpart for the women's Solheim Cup, had five choices and used them last Sunday to complete her team to face the Americans at St Pierre in two weeks time.

"The system has allowed me to pick the top 12 players in Europe," Walker said. "If I had had 12 choices, it would have been the same team." Among the picks were three Swedes, Helen Alfredsson, Liselotte Neumann, and Catrin Nilsmark, who holed the winning putt at Dalmahoy four years ago, and the Scots Kathryn Marshall and Dale Reid. After the effort of making the team, most are resting this week, but Reid, Trish Johnson and the world No 1, Laura Davies, begin the Solheim countdown today here in Hertfordshire at the European Open.

Reid, 37, will be one of six players to have played in all four teams since the inaugural match in 1990, but has not had the best of seasons. After a last round 80 in Sweden, Reid thought her chance had gone. "When I was told I was in, I was pleasantly shocked," Reid said. "I thought I had blown it. Waiting to find out was the longest three or four hours of my life. Ever since The Greenbrier, where the Americans were lucky, we have all wanted to get the cup back." Two years ago, the USA won 13-7.

"The Solheim Cup is the most important thing in women's golf," Walker said. "I feel passionately about it and so does every member of the team. For the wild cards I was looking for people who respond to the pressure of playing in the Solheim Cup, which is really unique. You want players you know can cope with that and be inspired and not just fall apart. Dale comes into that category."

Davies only arrived at Hanbury Manor yesterday afternoon after more dramatics in the Rail Classic in America on Monday. She birdied six of the last seven holes, including holing a bunker shot at the last, to get into a play-off. Michelle McGann halted her charge to a second successive win, but Davies' four victories on the LPGA Tour mean she has a $110,000 lead at the top of the US money list. First or second prize this week would vault her above Alfredsson on the European Order of Merit.

Her quest to do the double means the Solheim Cup will be Davies' 11th event in a row. Walker is not worried. "Laura has proved that she's got the capacity to play golf and travel unlike nobody else in the world. If you told her to take three weeks off, she would be itching to get back. But although she plays a lot of golf, she does not play a lot of practice rounds. Laura wants to get the cup back as much as anyone."