Rosie Jones, one of the most intense competitors in the history of the LPGA and a player who probably maximized her ability as completely as anyone who has ever played the game, will be the captain of the U.S. Solheim Cup team when it takes on Europe next year in Ireland. Jones, whose selection was announced Wednesday, will try to extend the American winning streak to four in the competition the United States has dominated 8-3.
One of the shortest hitters of her era, and among the few players whom the distance revolution passed by when hotter balls and hotter bats came into play at the turn of the century, Jones nonetheless won 13 times on the LPGA and made seven Solheim Cup teams. The 2011 competition will be played at Killeen Castle in County Meath, Ireland from Sept. 23-25.
"I am honored and absolutely ecstatic to be chosen as the 2011 Solheim Cup captain," said Jones, member of the first U.S. Solheim Cup team in 1990 who also sank the putt to clinch the 2002 Solheim Cup. "The Solheim Cup has been a huge part of my career as a player, and now it will be even more exciting as I prepare for what promises to be another great Solheim Cup in Ireland. I couldn't be more proud to represent the United States and have the opportunity to lead our players across the pond to Killeen Castle to retain the Cup."
Jones faces a challenge in Ireland, however, as each of the European Team's three Solheim Cup victories has come on European soil, the last coming in Sweden in 2003. The 2009 European Solheim Cup Captain Alison Nicholas will once again lead her team. In her days as a member of the U.S. squad, Jones recorded 12 points, including an overall singles record of 3-3-1. Her most recent appearance came at the 2005 competition played at the Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, where her U.S. team beat the Europeans by three points, tying the closest match in the history of the event. The Solheim Cup last August at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois was played in front of a record crowd of more than 120,000 for the week.
"Rosie Jones is a terrific choice to lead the American team at the 2011 Solheim Cup in Ireland," said John Solheim, PING Chairman & CEO. "As a seven-time participant in the event, including the very first one in 1990, her Solheim Cup experience provides her tremendous insight into team dynamics and what it takes to get the most out of every player. I expect the tenacity Rosie is known for on the golf course will translate to the team and create a competitive and enjoyable environment for the players and fans."
Jones was chosen by a selection committee comprised of the past three U.S. team captains, the LPGA Board Chairman, President of the LPGA Executive Committee, and the LPGA Commissioner. Her first job as captain will be to select two assistant's to help her lead the squad. Among those who may be captains down the road are Juli Inkster, Meg Mallon and Dottie Pepper, the poster woman for U.S. Solheim Cup intensity whose captain chances suffered a setback when her "choking freaking dogs" comment, inadvertently made it on the air during the 2007 Solheim Cup.
-- Ron Sirak
*(Photo by Getty Images)