Aug
4
2013
Captain’s controversy: Mallon names Michelle Wie to Solheim Cup team
By Stephanie Wei under Solheim Cup
The 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup (Photo via LPGA's Twitter)

The 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup (Photo via LPGA’s Twitter)

Following Stacy Lewis’s victory at the Women’s British Open, the American and European Solheim Cup captains took to the stage and announced the teams, including their respective wildcard picks.

Morgan Pressel played her way onto the team with her T4 finish, bumping Jennifer Johnson from automatically qualifying for the final of the two spots on the team via world ranking. Johnson, who won the LPGA Mobile Bay Classic in May, was also passed over as one of Meg Mallon’s two captain’s picks.

Instead, Mallon went with Gerina Piller and Michelle Wie, who is 4-3-1 in two previous appearances. 

Because everything that has to do with Wie is controversial, naturally, there has been quite a bit of irrational vitriol directed at Mallon’s decision (and at Wie — since it’s *entirely* her fault she got picked!).

Mallon said it was a no-brainer and she thought of the move Greg Norman made four years ago by picking the slumping Adam Scott for the Presidents Cup’s International team, according to GolfChannel.com’s Randall Mell:

“It’s really corny, but I kept thinking that this was my Greg Norman-Adam Scott moment,” Mallon said.

Four years ago, Norman made Scott a captain’s pick for the President Cup’s International squad, back when Scott was struggling as a player.

Wie, 23, has shown flashes of returning to form this year, but she also has struggled to find consistency, missing cuts and making untimely big numbers. Through it all, though, she has impressed Mallon with her work ethic and determination.

“I’ve said all along you have to be able to handle the pick,” Mallon said. “Michelle Wie can handle being on a big stage, being a big pick.

“She is under a microscope every single day she plays, and, frankly, the way she handles herself is incredible. I know being home in the States, having these big crowds, that she can handle that better than anyone, and she has no fear.”

I completely agree with Mallon.

Wie has struggled this season, with seven missed cuts. Her best finishes of the year were T9 at both the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the Shoprite LPGA Classic.

Wie said she didn’t know until about an hour before the team announcement was made that Mallon was going to make her a captain’s pick. Wie was called into the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews clubhouse wondering if bad news awaited her.

Mallon, though, asked her if she wanted to play for the American squad.

“As soon as I heard those words, I just started bawling,” Wie said. “I started crying and nodding my head yes. I’m just so happy.”

Mallon explained that she likes Wie’s power and game for Colorado Golf Club, the host venue.

“I kept thinking, `Do I want to leave five or six birdies a round at home on the couch?’” Mallon said. “I just couldn’t do that.

“She’s someone who has played in Solheim Cups, has the experience, so I don’t have to worry about that part. I’ve got, what? Four rookies? Michelle will be a leader for me, and I needed that extra leadership.”

Johnson, who understandably seemed to feel snubbed, tweeted:

Christina Kim, who is close friends with Wie, chimed in and replied:

Johnson clarified:

Separately, eight-time European Solheim Cup participant Sophie Gustafson weighed in:

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The eight Americans who qualified automatically on points included: Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang.

The two Americans who earned their way on the team via world ranking: Morgan Pressel and Lizette Salas.

The four Europeans who qualified on LET points were: Suzann Pettersen of Norway, Carlota Ciganda of Spain, Catriona Matthew of Scotland and Caroline Masson of Germany.

The other four from the world ranking were: Karine Icher of France, Azahara Munoz of Spain, Beatriz Recari of Spain and Anna Nordqvist of Sweden.

Captain Liselotte Neumann’s four picks: Charley Hull of England (she’s 17, so it’ll make her the youngest player in Solheim Cup history), Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England, Caroline Hedwall of Sweden and Giulia Sergas of Italy.