Neumann uses her opportunity to impress

The Solheim Cup captain hopes that home advantage can do the trick

Sam Torrance is not the first Ryder Cup captain to find himself in the middle of a wild-card controversy. Torrance issued a statement last week backing the present system whereby he gets only two wild card selections but, privately, he may be casting an envious eye at Dale Reid, the Solheim Cup captain who last night was grappling with the luxury of who would be her five picks for the match against the Americans at Loch Lomond next month.

Sam Torrance is not the first Ryder Cup captain to find himself in the middle of a wild-card controversy. Torrance issued a statement last week backing the present system whereby he gets only two wild card selections but, privately, he may be casting an envious eye at Dale Reid, the Solheim Cup captain who last night was grappling with the luxury of who would be her five picks for the match against the Americans at Loch Lomond next month.

This might be a surprise, given the fuss the competition has already generated, but since this is an even-numbered year, the Ryder Cup is not about to be staged this autumn. The qualifying for next year's match at The Belfry only begins on Thursday, in the Swiss resort of Crans-sur-Serre, yet the preliminaries have produced a fair old scrap between Nick Faldo and Mark James, the latter having to resign as a vice-captain following his book-writing exploits, while the qualifying system itself is once again being questioned.

With more of Europe's leading men expecting to play mostly in America next year, Torrance may find himself in the situation of having more than two players he would like in the team outside the 10 automatic qualifiers. On the women's circuit, the top players already split their time between the States and Europe so only seven players get in off the list which was finalised after yesterday's Kronenbourg 164 Classic at Chart Hills.

The tournament, which should have provided the opportunity for Laura Davies to extend her run of winning in Europe every year since 1985, was won by New Zealand's Gina Scott, in a play-off over Italy's Isabella Maconi at the second extra hole. Davies, after four birdies in five holes, led with two to play but put her tee shot into the water at the 17th and took a double-bogey while Maconi, the overnight leader, birdied the par-three to draw level with Scott.

But in Solheim terms, there was no change to the automatic qualifiers, led by the British Open winner Sophie Gustafson. The other six included veterans Davies, Tish Johnson and Alison Nicholas, plus world No 2 Annika Sorenstam and rookies, Patricia Meunier Lebouc, of France, and Spain's Raquel Carriedo.

Gustafson made her debut in the 16-12 defeat at Muirfield Village two years ago but is one of the most improved players on either side of the Atlantic, having won three times in Europe this season and once in America. Lebouc won in France and Austria, while Carriedo has twice been a runer-up. The one player with a chance of forcing her way into the team yesterday was Marine Monnet.

The 22-year-old from Paris needed to win to claim the last spot but finished only a shot outside the playoff at eight-under-par, after an eagle and two birdies in the last seven holes.

Had Monnet forced her way into the team, Sorenstam would have missed out but been picked anyway. Instead, Reid is likely to go for three Swedes in Lotte Neumann, Catrin Nilsmark and Carin Koch, plus the Scots Catriona Matthew and Janice Moodie.

Moodie and Koch would be two more rookies but fully justify their selections by their positions on the US money list, where Moodie is ninth and Koch 20th. However, despite lacking any form of note, Helen Alfredsson, the life and soul of previous teams, might come into consideration.

It was presumably not the picturesque countryside in the Garden of England that distracted Reid during her closing round of 74. Yet before her very eyes, one of her problems may have been solved as Neumann broke the course record with a 64 to finish at seven under. "The timing was good," Neumann said. "Yes, I was trying to impress Dale a little bit."

The Swede was so out of form two months ago she would have ruled herself out of contention for a wild card but then finished runner-up at the British Open. "I knew then I wasn't good enough to be in the team," said Neumann. "It's just in the last three weeks that things have turned around."

There was little conversation between the captain and potential player. "I was focused and kept myself to myself," Neuman said. "I don't think Dale has said anything to anyone."

Europe has won the Solheim Cup only once in five attempts - at Dalmahoy in 1992. "It will be good to go back to Scotland," said Neumann. "I believe the trophy belongs in Europe, for sure. My experience can help. It is a nerve-racking week and a busy one. There is a lot of pressure and it helps to know what it is all about."

With Karrie Webb, an Australian, taking over the game in a similar manner to Tiger Woods, it is difficult to assess the relative strengths of both teams but the Americans, led by Dottie Pepper, Juli Inkster and Meg Mallon, will no doubt start favourites again. Reid, however, will be hoping home advantage will play its part.

Final round scores and totals in the Kronenbourg 1664 Chart Hills Classic, Chart Hills, Kent (Gb and Irl unless stated):

207 G Scott (Nzl) 72 70 65 (£15,000), I Maconi (Ita) 66 69 72 (£10,150) (Scott won play-off with par at second extra hole) 208 M Monnet (Fra) 73 68 67 (£7,000) 209 L Neumann (Swe) 73 72 64, L Maritz (Rsa) 72 70 67, L Davies 68 71 70 (£4,380 each) 210 A Nicholas 76 67 67, S Gronberg Whitmore (Swe) 70 73 67, S Mendiburu (Fra) 69 72 69, J Mills (Aus) 66 74 70 211 S Gustafson (Swe) 71 71 69, A Gottmo (Swe) 70 71 70 212 S Head 73 73 66, L Hed (Swe) 69 73 70 213 E Steen (Swe) 72 71 70, I Tinning (Den) 69 71 73, T Johnson 71 66 76 214 S Arricau (Spa) 71 73, K Taylor 74 70 70, C Dibnah (Aus) 74 70 70, K Marshall 73 70 71, S Sandolo (Ita) 75 67 72 215 S Pettersen 77 69 69, A-B Sanchez (Spa) 74 71 70, C Hall 69 75 71, A Munt (Aus) 73 70 72, L Lambert (Aus) 70 72 73, E Esterl (Ger) 70 72 73, J Leary (Aus) 74 68 73 216 S Eklund (Swe) 71 74 71, L Brooky (Nzl) 73 72 71, P Meunier Lebouc (Fra) 71 71 74 217 C Kuld (Den) 75 73 69, L Kreutz (Fra) 72 73 72, K Lunn (Aus) 68 76 73, T Hjertstedt (Swe) 73 70 74 218 A Rogers 74 74 70, A-M Knight (Aus) 73 75 70, N Karlsson (Swe) 70 76 72, M Verspieran (Fra) 74 72 72, A Berg (Swe) 71 72 75, D Booker (Aus) 71 71 76, H Dobson 73 69 76 219 R Lautens (Swi) 71 76 72, J Head 73 74 72, J Forbes 74 72 73, E-J Clifford 73 73 73, D Reid 72 73 74, W Daden 73 71 75, S Mehra (Ind) 69 74 76 220 A Milie (Ita) 72 76 72, M Hageman (Ned) 75 71 74, M Hedblom (Swe) 71 73 76, R Carriedo (Spa) 72 72 76 221 R Hakkarainen (Fin) 74 73 74, M Hedberg (Swe) 72 75 74, L Fairclough 73 74 74, T Fischer (Ger) 75 71 75 222 N Fink (Aut) 76 72 74 223 M De Boer (Ned) 74 74 75, S Jelander (Swe) 70 77 76 224 J Oliver 73 75 76 225 M Lunn (Aus) 74 74 77 226 J Van Hagen (Ned) 70 75 81 227 K Taylor 74 72 81

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