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Matthew upset at Solheim Cup snub

It was Catriona Matthew’s 33rd birthday on Sunday, but she certainly didn’t get the present she had hoped for and yesterday she admitted she was hurt and angry at being left out of the European team for the Solheim Cup team for the second time in succession.

Two years ago, Matthew failed to pick up one of Dale Reid’s wild card selections at Loch Lomond, and she has again been overlooked by the Ladybank-based captain for the defence of the trophy at Interlachen in Minnesota from 20-22 September. Janice Moodie was another surprise absentee, leaving only one Scot, Mhairi McKay, in the line-up.

Matthew, who played in the 1998 match at Muirfield Village in Ohio, admitted that she was "totally disenchanted" at once again being passed over.

Last year, she won the Hawaiian Open and was tenth on the LPGA money list; over the past two weeks, she secured second and fourth finishes in America and is No18 on the money list.

"I’m really hurt and angry, and am seriously wondering whether it’s worth the bother to try and make the team," said the North Berwick golfer, speaking from the States yesterday. "It seems that the team is based on personality rather than playing ability, but I really don’t know what Dale has got against me.

"She is quoted as saying she asked me to play more in Europe in order to get noticed. But she hasn’t said anything more than ‘hello’ to me in the past two years and I didn’t see her out watching me at the British Open (at Turnberry) after she missed the cut."

With Germany’s Elisabeth Esterl named travelling reserve, Matthew continued: "Does that mean that Janice and I are only sixth or seventh? It’s a laugh."

Not surprisingly, Matthew backs a suggestion that the selection process should be altered, and weighted more towards results on the US-based LPGA Tour. This year, eight players came from rankings based on the European Tour plus the majors, with Reid adding her four picks. It should have been seven, but Maria Hjorth and Iben Tinning tied for the final spot.

Laura Davies, who got a wild card, has suggested the balance should be five from the LPGA, five from Europe and two wild cards. Matthew proposed seven from the LPGA and three from Europe, a suggestion branded "ridiculous" by Reid last week.

Moodie could also feel aggrieved. She won the Asahi Ryokuken International in Augusta in May - world No1 Annika Sorenstam is the only other European to have won in the US this year - and has a great matchplay record. She was joint top points scorer at Loch Lomond two years ago, has a fine Curtis Cup record and made the final of the WPGA International Matchplay at Gleneagles last year. But, she also plays almost all her golf in the US.

Currently, the minimum requirement for those wanting to make the team is to play in six Evian European Tour events over two seasons, but there is talk of raising the number perhaps to eight or more.

But Matthew will certainly not be adding to her number of European appearances (three this year), and so could well rule herself out of next year’s Solheim Cup at Barseback in Sweden with Catrin Nilsmark as the European captain.

Reid, meanwhile, will have a new-look team at Interlachen, with six rookies - McKay, Tinning, Hjorth, Karine Icher, Paula Marti and Suzann Pettersen.

This is the seventh staging of the Cup, and Europe - winners at Dalmahoy in 1992 and Loch Lomond in 2000 - aim to win for the first time in the US.


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