Ireland’s Solheim Cup hopefuls can expect no preferential treatment from European captain Alison Nicholas when she chooses her four wildcards for the 2011 matches at Killeen Castle.
If an Irishwoman fails to make the side automatically, don’t hold your breath waiting for Nicholas to cowtow to home sentiment with a pity pick.
There is enough interest in the UK and Sweden to ensure a sellout at the Jack Nicklaus designed County Meath venue and Nicholas is still hopeful that Irish fans will turn up to support Europe, even if there are no Irish players in the side.
She’s certainly not going to weaken her selection by picking a player who simply doesn’t deserve to be there.
Asked about the chances of seeing Ireland’s first Solheim Cup debutant on Irish soil, Nicholas said: “Rebecca Coakley is around and about. She’s got enough talent but whether it’ll happen in the time … who knows, you never know.”
As for a wildcard for an Irish player, she said: “It’s all about performance for me. As a player I had to perform to get into the team and it’s no different now.
“If they’re not playing very well, it’s be a bit naïve of me to pick someone just because they were Irish and they weren’t playing very well.”
The top four players on the LET Solheim Cup points and the top four from the Rolex World Rankings will make the side automatically with Nicholas adding four picks.
As things stand, Rebecca Coakley and Hazel Kavanagh are the only Irish players with points on the board at 16th and 29th respectively in the European standings.
Ireland might have to settle for a vice-captaincy instead with Maureen Madill mentioned as a potential candidate.
“Might well be,” Nicholas added with a grin. “I know but I’m not telling you. I know what I’m going to be doing but that’s not for public consumption. The announcement will be within the next month or two and, no, I can’t give you a sneak preview.”
“She was in the backroom at Rich Harvest. It’s a possibility. I’m sure there’ll be someone about who’s Irish, I’m sure.”
Just don’t bet your house on seeing them pick up a club at Killeen Castle, which Nicholas played for the first time on Wednesday.
“It was great,” she said. “A fabulous golf course. It’s in great condition and I enjoyed it very much.”
Nicholas will have a more hands on role next year as the home captain and will make decisions about the golf course set-up.
She will also attend the AIB Ladies Irish Open, supported by Failte Ireland, taking place at Killeen Castle, from 6-8 August, the week after the Ricoh Women’s British Open, this year.
With a prize fund of €500,000 and scheduled during a free week on the LPGA calendar, the AIB Ladies Irish Open will provide the only opportunity for players from both sides of the Atlantic to test their skills on The 2011 Solheim Cup venue in a competitive environment and expects to draw a quality field of international competitors.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the girls play in the AIB Ladies Irish Open,” said Nicholas. “It’s a great layout and it’s going to be very challenging. The course is in great condition and I know they are going to make it even better for the AIB Ladies Irish Open and The Solheim Cup.”
The captain’s appearance marked the announcement of Volkswagen’s partnership with the tournament in Ireland. Along with becoming ‘Official Car’ of The Solheim Cup in September next year, Volkswagen will support this year’s AIB Ladies Irish Open.