Europe's Catriona Matthew announces captain's picks, including first Irishwoman to play Solheim Cup
Catriona Matthew proved she knew how to make good use of captain’s picks in 2019 when her unconventional choice of Suzann Pettersen—who’d played in just two events the previous 18 months while on maternity leave—resulted in Pettersen dropping the winning putt for Team Europe at the Solheim Cup. Picking the No. 620 player in the world made for a bit of controversy at the time, but Matthew says the picks for the 2021 Solheim Cup, to be held over Labor Day weekend at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, weren’t any easier.
“I think it was just as stressful this year to be honest. I don’t think it matters how many picks you’ve got. It’s always kind of the last one that’s a tricky one. The rest kind of play their way in,” Matthew said. “Glad it’s over.”
This time around, Matthew had six picks, or half of her team. The other six players earned their spots via World Ranking points, Anna Nordqvist, Sophia Popov, Charley Hull and Carlota Ciganda, and Ladies European Tour points, Emily Kristine Pedersen and Georgia Hall.
Matthew used her captain’s picks to add three rookies: Leona Maguire, Matilda Castren and Nanna Koerstz Madsen. Her other three picks were Madelene Sagstrom, Mel Reid and Celine Boutier.
Maguire, the former No. 1 amateur in the world and Duke University standout, will be the first player from Ireland to compete in a Solheim Cup. The 26-year-old comes into Inverness in good form: She has finished runner-up twice in 2021 and shot 61 in the final round of the Amundi Evian Championship, tying the record for lowest round shot in a major championship on the LPGA Tour.
“I think it’s going to be great for Irish golf and to show the young girls coming up that it is possible to do things if you set your mind to it. Catriona is a legend in her own right - a winning Solheim Cup captain and a major winner. For her to think I’m good enough to be on her team is quite humbling and an honor,” Maguire said.
Matthew picked Maguire not only for her results thus far in 2021, but also because of her abilities in match play.
“I think she’s got that real grittiness,” Matthew said. “I think she’s a really good match player, has a great record from the Curtis Cup and played well in the match play in Vegas. I think she’ll be a solid, one of these never-give-up-type players.”
Team Europe looked to their veteran captain’s pick of Suzann Pettersen for the win in 2019; Maybe it’ll be a rookie captain’s pick creating a bit of magic at Inverness.