For those unfamiliar with the lionesses of women’s golf, Mel Reid will be the one doing keepie-uppies on the first tee when the Solheim Cup starts in Heidelberg on Friday. Like the menfolk who have taken unbroken possession of the Ryder Cup since 2010, Europe’s women are bent on historic redress after years of American subjugation.
Reid is making her second appearance, and it could not be further removed from her debut four years ago. At Killeen in Ireland the football-loving daughter of Derby was a vibrant, blonde irritant. On this occasion, Reid is rebuilding a career that fell apart after the death of her mother, Joy, in a car accident while attending a tournament in Munich three years ago.
It was only in November that she felt able to commit herself to a future in the game. Her return to Germany as a member of a Solheim Cup team seeking a third successive victory is loaded with significance.
Reid’s father, Brian, who survived the accident, is returning to Germany for the first time since losing his wife. Reid’s brother and sister will also be in attendance. “I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a certain part of me thinking about it. Emotionally it is going to be tough for me to be there. I’m going to channel it a certain way.
“All the players are aware. I’m excited for my dad to be there and my brother and sister. They have not been back. They were going to come out anyway but I kind of pushed them. I said that this is kind of the circle of the journey. It’s so ironic that it’s in Germany and I got in by a point. It was a goal to get in it and I’m really proud that I did that by right rather than through a pick.”
If Reid were not taking it to the American elite on the fairways, she would be snapping at their ankles on the football pitch. When time allows she plays left wing for Loughborough United in the third tier of the women’s professional game.
“I love it. I stopped playing for a year and it affected my golf, I played awful, so why not carry on playing? If I get injured, I get injured. It’s a risk, but I’m not stupid. I haven’t really got a personality for golf. I don’t particularly like being on my own. I like to train with someone, practise with people. I like being around people, that’s why I like football so much, the banter and camaraderie.”
Solheim Cup obligations have kept her out of the squad for the opening four games of the season. “The coach is coming out to watch and I will have a chat with her when I get back. I do want to play but it is quite a high level and involves a lot of travelling. We want to become a Super League team. We have amazing facilities, we just haven’t got a man’s team to support us, which is what you need for Super League.”
Reid is a reconstituted golfer since the end of last year. A fresh approach and dynamic outlook under new coach and mentor Kevin Graggs has already brought a tour win in Turkey that helped seal her automatic selection. A top-10 finish at the British Open in July was further evidence of the sea change in results. Though she missed the cut this weekend at the final major of the season, the Evian Championship in France, she flagged up that possibility as the painful consequence of swing changes she feels are necessary if she is to challenge consistently.
Reid marches towards the American foe undaunted. “If you would have written this script last November I would have said you are out of your mind. When things have not been going well for such a long time it is extremely hard to pick yourself up again.
“It is by far the toughest thing I have ever done. I know it sounds like a cliché but it has made me a better person.
“I’m not trying to prove myself anymore. I just trust my instincts, and do things the way I want to do them.”
The Solheim Cup, matchplay golf between teams from Europe and the United States, was first staged in 1990. Europe have won five of the 13 stagings, including the last two, triumphing 18-10 in Colorado in 2013, the largest winning margin in the competition’s history.
Sky Sports is showing the Solheim Cup, 18-20 Sep, as part of an unrivalled schedule of Women's Sport.Reuse content