Matthew gets late call

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Solheim Cup reject Catriona Matthew is in line for a dramatic late call-up after Europe's team suffered a major injury scare ahead of their clash with America.

Solheim Cup reject Catriona Matthew is in line for a dramatic late call-up after Europe's team suffered a major injury scare ahead of their clash with America.

Matthew was controversially left out of captain Dale Reid's 12-strong side despite finishing higher on the LPGA money list than several of the team who qualified automatically and three of the five wild cards.

The 31-year-old Scot, who played in the contest two years ago, was also upset that Reid had failed to tell her personally of her surprise decision.

But any potential conflict was quickly forgotten when Reid yesterday asked Matthew to make the journey from her North Berwick home in case Swede Helen Alfredsson fails to recover from a hand injury in time.

Alfredsson, ironically one of the wild cards chosen ahead of Matthew, fell when getting into a bus on Tuesday, injuring her wrist on the gravel, and was only able to play five holes in practice on Wednesday.

With all 12 players needed in Saturday's six fourball matches and Sunday's 12 singles matches, Reid cannot afford to take any chances and must decide if Alfredsson is fit by the opening ceremony on Thursday afternoon.

Alfredsson tried to down play the extent of the injury as "a little sore in the thumb but otherwise fine" but Reid admitted she was doubtful and that would open the door for Matthew.

Reid, who later revealed she had tried on several occasions to contact Matthew by phone to tell her of her original omission, tonight strongly resisted calls for a Rest of the World team to make the biennial event more competitive.

The United States have won four of the five contests between the sides, their only defeat coming at Dalmahoy in Scotland in 1992.

But Reid was quick to dismiss suggestions that world stars such as Australian Karrie Webb and Korea's Se Ri Pak should be included in a worldwide side to strengthen the opposition and prevent an American dominance.

"I know there's people who don't feel we're strong enough to take on the USA but I believe we are," said Reid, herself a veteran of the first four contests, as she prepared her team at a soggy Loch Lomond.

"It took a long time for the men to come through in the end in the Ryder Cup but now we're getting close matches. I think we need to stay with it and keep it the same.

"I am sure by the time we get older - the LPGA is a lot older than the European Tour - if they stick by us and we stick by them we're going to have a tremendous event in the years to come."

Reid's sentiments were echoed by Dottie Pepper, a famously fierce competitor and the only American to have played in all five contests so far.

"I have a very strong opinion about this," Pepper said. "If you look at the total score, sure it looks like the Americans have dominated. But if you look at what has happened in the matches, we haven't dominated.

"We came from behind at St Pierre, we were tied going into the singles at Greenbrier. Our teams may have been deeper in singles in those particular years but if you just look at the total score I think it's a short sighted view of what the actual matches have had.

"I think the Solheim Cup needs to stand as itself. If there is room down the road for a President's Cup type match (the USA v an international side without European players) I think that would be great, but the Solheim Cup needs to remain as it is."

Both sides' main concern at the moment is simply to get the matches played with a series of problems plaguing the course.

Most seriously, a mistake by greenkeepers applying an incorrect dose of herbicide has badly damaged 14 of the 18 greens with some so bare that green dye was applied to try and give an appearance of normality.

And on top of that, heavy rain in already one of the wettest parts of the country has left the course struggling to cope, Reid joking that her players were experimenting with which ever balls "floated the best."

"The fairways are coping pretty well and the greens, it's the walking areas for the spectators I actually feel sorry for at the moment," Reid added. "You can't have a tournament without spectators so my heart is going to be with them this week.

"The main problem is the rough. I think it's going to be hard to determine what is casual water, there's more mud than anything out there at the moment. They got the forecast wrong today and I'm hoping they get it wrong by the weekend again and it is sun for the rest of the week. We do need a bit of heat out here.

"All I want to do is get a result this week, we want to get the matches played. If we have to have preferred lies (players allowed to lift and clean balls due to too much surface water) then so be it.

"I really feel if the Solheim cup comes back to Europe we should be looking at September and not October. The weather is too unpredictable in October I feel."

Reid and her opposite number Pat Bradley have until the opening ceremony on Thursday to name their pairings for the opening foursomes on Friday morning.

There will be four foursomes in the morning and four in the afternoon, with six fourball matches on Saturday and 12 singles on Sunday.

A total of 26 points are available with the first team to 13 and a half points the winners while, in the event of a tie, the Americans as defending champions would retain the trophy.

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