U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)


Solheim Cup 2019: 11 things to know about the least-known player at Gleneagles, Ally McDonald

September 14, 2019
The Solheim Cup - Day 2

David Cannon

GLENEAGLES, Scotland — When Stacy Lewis had to withdraw from the Solheim Cup with back issues on Tuesday, U.S. captain Juli Inkster's alternate was revealed. Inkster had chosen Lewis and Morgan Pressel as her captain's picks, to add some seniority to a very young team. Would her alternate be a similar pick?

Nope. Inkster called in Ally McDonald, who brought the Team USA rookie count to six. McDonald validated her pick immediately, winning a point in her first start on Friday, a four-ball match with Angel Yin, in record-tying fashion. The two defeated Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall, 7 and 5, tying for the largest margin of victory in a four-ball. She then played Saturday morning foursomes and afternoon four-ball, losing in both.

Though there are a lot of first-time Solheim Cup players on Team USA, McDonald is likely the least known. We walked with her crew—mom, dad, brother, boyfriend and 78-year-old grandma—on the back nine on Saturday. They had flown over as soon as they heard McDonald was going to get a start. Though their flights were delayed, they made it in time to see her win on Friday afternoon, with just a couple hours to spare.

angel yin The Solheim Cup - Day 1

Andrew Redington/WME IMG

She had a great career at Mississippi State.

McDonald won five tournaments, and was a two-time All American. She graduated in 2015. In 2013, she also won the North and South Women's Championship.

This isn't her first team event.

McDonald was part of the victorious U.S. team at the 2014 Curtis Cup. Solheim Cup teammate Annie Park was on that Curtis Cup team, as well.

If golf didn't work out, she was going to be a physical therapist.

McDonald majored in kinesiology at Mississippi State, with plans to become a physical therapist if professional golf didn't work out. Let's just say she's not applying to physical therapy school any time soon.

She played on the boys' high school team.

There was no girls' team, so she played for the boys at her local high school in Mississippi. She became the first girl to win the boys' state championship.

After college, she went to the Symetra Tour.

Via Q School, she got conditional status on the LPGA in 2016. She played more Symetra tournaments than LPGA events that year. By finishing second on the money list, she had played well enough to get full status on the LPGA for 2017.

She can sing.

"She'll never tell you this, but she has a lovely singing voice," says Angie McDonald, Ally's mom. McDonald sings at their local church.

Her best finish on the LPGA Tour is third.

She's done it twice: the 2019 ShopRite LPGA Classic and the 2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

She has Type 1 diabetes.

McDonald hadn't been showing any symptoms, but got the diagnosis after she went to a regular doctor's appointment. She's been managing it since 2016.

The first thing she did after being discharged from the hospital for severe dehydration in 2017, was a plank.

The day happened to be Gary Player's birthday, so she did it in honor of him. Even Player would have tipped his cap to a plank while being hooked up to an IV.

She didn't get her first hole in one until recently.

She shared this from July 2017.

When Juli Inkster called her to ask if she'd be an alternate, she was out practicing.

"When Stacy called me and said she's having a little back issue," Inkster said, "I called Ally and there's this wind. I go, 'Are you out hitting balls?' She goes, 'Yeah.' So when I said, we need you, we need you to come here on Sunday, she says I'll be there."

Out grinding away in the wake of disappointment after not being named to the team, McDonald was exactly the type of player Inkster wanted.