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Final European Solheim Cup team announced

European captain Dale Reid and her vice captain Pam Wright today announced the five European wild cards for next month's Solheim Cup at Loch Lomond.

With the seven automatic Solheim qualifiers already confirmed after the final round of the Kronenbourg 1664 Chart Hills Classic, Reid finalised her side by selecting the Swedish quartet of Helen Alfredsson, Carin Koch, Liselotte Neumann and Catrin Nilsmark, as well as the in-form Janice Moodie of Scotland.

They will line up alongside the English trio of Laura Davies, Trish Johnson and Alison Nicholas, Swedes Annika Sorenstam and Sophie Gustafson, France's Patricia Meunier Lebouc and Raquel Carriedo of Spain, all of whom secured their places from the Solheim ranking. Koch and Moodie will join Meunier Lebouc and Carriedo as the four debutantes in the European side, while Carriedo will become the first Spanish player to represent Europe.

"It's been a very difficult choice because there are so many players who have been playing well this year," said Reid, herself a four-time Solheim Cup player. "I was pretty sure of four of my five choices before this week. The fifth took a little discussion with Pam (Wright), but we both came to the same decision.

"It was always going to come down to someone getting disappointed. Annika (Sorenstam) qualifying automatically made things a lot easier. There were a couple of players who Pam and I felt had played themselves out of the team. "It really has been hard. There are still a couple of players who I wish were in the team, but I only have five picks at the end of the day.

"There are so many class players on this Tour (Evian Ladies European Tour) now - there's at least 20 girls who deserve to be on this team. All fantastic golfers. This Tour's really come a long way." Asked about the similarities between her team and the previous European sides that have traditionally struggled against the Americans, Reid said: "I don't think they are all that similar. We've got four rookies this year so they're not all that similar at all.

"I can't stop previous Solheim Cup players from continuing to play fantastic golf and getting into the side. But we do have a change there." When questioned about the strength of the rookies, Reid replied: "I don't have a problem with any of them. They've played their way into the team. They've played some great golf.

"They've beaten some fantastic players along the way to get there and I think they'll be a great asset to the team. "Carin (Koch) has played real steady this year, producing score in the 60's and making plenty of birdies. I've been looking closely at the birdie stats this year - I don't care about double bogeys. Birdies and eagles win holes in matchplay."

Reid's selection of Alfredsson, whose form has been indifferent all season, was perhaps the most surprising. But the European captain was quick to defend her choice. "I've played with Alfie (Alfredsson) a few times in the past month and her game's definitely coming back, as is Lotte's (Neumann)," added Reid.

The Solheim Cup captains pose with the trophy at Loch Lomond. Allsport.

"Alfie's great for the team, she's a strong player. I don't know many better matchplay players than Alfie, and I think her Solheim Cup record speaks for itself. Reid was also delighted that Scotland's Moodie had had such a successful season on the LPGA Tour in America.

"With Janice (Moodie) being a Scot it's nice to have her in the team as we're playing in Scotland. Janice knows the golf course and has had a fantastic season this year and is very steady. She'll be a great asset to the team."

Reid also confirmed that she had had Nilsmark down as a wild card for nearly a year, despite the Swede having had a difficult season.

"I've know about Catrin (Nilsmark) pretty much since last year," continued Reid. "She was coaxing the others who play in America to get back to Europe and play more.

"Catrin is so much up for it it's not funny. Unfortunately she has had a bad time this year. I thought the best thing to do was to tell her early on and just let her go and rest and get her mind sorted out. She's known for a while."

As to her side's chances when the sixth staging of The Solheim Cup tees-off on October 6, Reid was confident of a European victory.

"I definitely think our team will have more strength in depth than the American team," said Reid. "We've got some fantastic players there, and they're all playing well. We have depth in the side, and the players who already have Solheim Cup experience will help the rookies.

"I don't see us as the underdogs and to be quite honest it makes no difference who goes in as favourites. It's what happens on the grass that counts, not on paper. "I'll be keeping in touch with the players from now on in. It makes it easier that it's still five weeks away.

"They can now stop worrying about making the side and plan ahead. Some players may want to take time off and just keep their strength up for the week. I think a few players will now they know."

The American team will be announced on September 24, 2000 following the completion of the Safeway LPGA Golf Championship.

2000 EUROPEAN SOLHEIM CUP TEAM AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS
Sophie Gustafson (SWE)
Trish Johnson (ENG)
Laura Davies (ENG)
Alison Nicholas (ENG)
Patricia Meunier Lebouc (FRA)
Raquel Carriedo (ESP)
Annika Sorenstam (SWE)

CAPTAIN'S WILD CARDS
Helen Alfredsson (SWE)
Carin Koch (SWE)
Janice Moodie (SCO)
Liselotte Neumann (SWE)
Catrin Nilsmark (SWE)

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