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Reid chooses Solheim Cup wild card picks

At the close of the Wales WPGA Championship, European Solheim Cup captain Dale Reid announced her twelve players for this year's seventh edition of The Solheim Cup, which will take place at Interlachen GC, Minnesota, from September 20-22.

In a bizarre final day for qualifying at the Wales WPGA Championship of Europe, Reid had to endure a succession of options as to who will make the team by right, thus determining her picks. But with calculations that even Einstein would have trouble working out during the final round, it was a stressful day for the 43-year-old from Ladybank.

With eleven players in the running for either a top seven automatic spot, or one of the wild card positions, it was going to be a controversial day whatever happened.

At the end of the championship, Sweden's Maria Hjorth finished runner up to Asa Gottmo, earning 36 points and played her way into a tie for the seventh and final automatic spot with Denmark's Iben Tinning on exactly 125 points.

Hjorth fired a final round one under par 72, including a terrific up and down at the final hole from the back of the 18th green to book her place in the team to face the USA.

Tinning earned the most valuable two points in her career to date scraping in with a final round 74 to tie for tenth with Laura Davies and Elisabeth Esterl.

That left the Ladies European Tour board of directors with an emergency decision to make, as there was nothing in the rules and regulations to determine what happens in the event of a tie.

Reid, who was consulted throughout the process, agreed it fair to include both Hjorth and Tinning leaving her the top seven qualifiers and four picks for her team. The qualifiers were:

(1) Annika Sorenstam (Sweden)
(2) Raquel Carriedo (Spain)
(3) Karine Icher (France)
(4) Paula Marti (Spain)
(5) Sophie Gustafson (Sweden)
(6) Suzann Pettersen (Norway)
(7=) Iben Tinning (Denmark)
(7=) Maria Hjorth (Sweden)

And Reid's four wild card picks were:

Laura Davies (England)
Mhairi McKay (Scotland)
Carin Koch (Sweden)
Helen Alfredsson (Sweden)

And as travelling reserve, Elisabeth Esterl from Germany, who finished 10th in the rankings after a solid performance this week.

"I wasn't expecting a tie for seventh as I was tossing a lot of names up for the places and basically with Iben and Maria cutting the places down to four made it easier for me," said Reid, as she justified her picks at the announcement.

"It was very hard to have a team without Laura, she is a very experienced player and in every Solheim Cup she has performed well, therefore I found it very hard to have a team without her.

"Mhairi McKay, she is leading the birdie and eagles statistics on the LPGA and we are talking about matchplay here and she has had a terrific year to date.

"Carin Koch, another player with a terrific year on the LPGA and her performance at the last Solheim was excellent.

"And Alfie, I think she is still the best matchplayer in the world and also, we have a lot of rookies in the team and I think it is a very good balance for the team.

But there was controversy with Scots Janice Moodie and Catriona Matthew not getting a wild card from their compatriot.

Moodie, the joint top points scorer when Europe defeated the USA at Loch Lomond, had not been told that she is in the team as she is playing in the Betsy King event on the LPGA, and Reid, despite prompting the Scots among others to come back and show some willing, was disappointed that they did not return to Europe more often to fight for their places.

"Yes, they were asked to come back and play," added Reid.

"It is a European Tour that plays the USA and you have to play here to be noticed. This is a high ranking event this week and there were a lot of girls who were tying to make the team, it's a huge deal and I was a bit disappointed that they didn't come and play more over here.

"I do feel you do have to come back and try, it's not a lot to ask, it's the final tournament this week and there is no reason not to come and play.

"The last three weeks there have been good prizefunds and if you are not in the eye, you don't get noticed - It means a lot to me that a lot of players were trying hard this week.

"There never is justification with wild cards, Janice did win this year on the LPGA, but she missed four straight cuts and also missed the cut at the British Open.

"I thought after that she should have played at Compaq or WPGA to impress, but she didn't.

"I made it clear to them all, I had a hard job getting them to play in Europe two years ago before Loch Lomond and they should have fed off from that, they were made aware to come back and play more."

The full team to play the USA as Europe defend the trophy and try to win for the first time on American soil is:

The Solheim Cup European Team 2002

Annika Sorenstam
Raquel Carriedo
Karine Icher
Paula Marti
Sophie Gustafson
Suzann Pettersen
Iben Tinning
Maria Hjorth
Laura Davies
Helen Alfredsson
Mhairi McKay
Carin Koch

Travelling reserve: Elisabeth Esterl

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