Beth Allen rules out European route into Solheim Cup

Californian Beth Allen has found happiness in Scotland and is ready to help find a new Catriona Matthew. Picture: Kenny Smith
Californian Beth Allen has found happiness in Scotland and is ready to help find a new Catriona Matthew. Picture: Kenny Smith
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She’s the European No 1 and also sits on the board of the Ladies European Tour board, but Beth Allen will always be in the American camp when it comes to the Solheim Cup.

“No,” replied the Edinburgh-based player with a smile to being asked if it was possible she might be vying to get in Annika Sorenstam’s side rather than the one being captained by Julie Inkster in next September’s match in Iowa.

“I could play in other things, but nothing would mean more to me than play in a Solheim Cup as an American. Growing up in the US, playing for your country is so important.

“I think it would be strange to be playing against my European peers that I often support, but I’m a competitor and I’ve always wanted to represent my country.

“The Solheim would be the ultimate achievement, especially as a LET member. It’s promoting the European Tour, too.”

Based on her performances this season, when she won twice on the LET in becoming the first American to top its money-list, Allen would surely walk straight into Sorenstam’s team for a contest taking place Des Moines Golf and Country Club.

Making the home line-up may prove more difficult, but the recently-turned 35-year-old believes it has definitely become a realistic goal.

“I’m the 12th best American at 60th in the world,” she pointed out during a visit to Gleneagles to help launch Scottish Golf’s new Ping Scottish Mixed Championship. “I’m going to do my best. Hopefully I can get a fast start, get some points - and also make friends with Juli Inkster!”

Her success on this side of the Atlantic has certainly been noted in the States, as Allen discovered when she returned to successfully negotiate the LPGA Qualifying School in Florida at the end of last month.

“I’d been there at Q School about six times in the past and this year it was a totally different scene as I was speaking to the media after every round,” she said.

“I was also much more confident about going there. I’m more experienced now and it was totally different feeling.”

While excited about what lies ahead in 2017, that success has brought some headaches. “It’s tricky as the LPGA only give you three releases,” said Allen.

“If there is a European Tour event against an LPGA event I’m allowed to play in three of them. If I don’t take a release, it’s a $25,000 fine which I would like to avoid.

“I’ve got the Scottish Open but it’s now on the LPGA, so that’s one release I would have had to have used. That counts on both money lists. The Evian, the British are similar, too.

“I want to defend both the events I won on the LET – in France and Abu Dhabi – and they are both against events in Asia on the LPGA. They are limited field events so I’d have to earn my way into them. It will be hard juggling two tours but I think it can be done. We’ll see.

“It’s a Solheim year, too, so I want to focus on America at the start of the season and the majors and see where we are. I want to build my schedule around majors.”

No matter whether she is playing on the LPGA circuit or the LET Tour, Edinburgh will remain as Allen’s base, having settled in the Scottish capital following her marriage to Clare Queen, a former LET player herself and now a member of Scottish Golf’s performance team, earlier this year.

“When I started playing my golf in Europe, I gravitated towards the Scots and I became friends with them,” recalled the Californian. “I love it here.”

Even when, due to the fact she doesn’t drive, she has to use public transport to get down to North Berwick, where she often plays in between events?

“It’s handy now on Leith Walk as I can get anywhere,” she said, laughing. “Maybe I can approach some bus or train company for sponsorship?

“When I’m here I try to play somewhere near a railway, which is great in Scotland as most of the links courses are near them. I play North Berwick a lot as I just hop off and I’m just about on the course.

“I drive in the US, but I hate it. I’m not good at it - and neither are other people in California!”

Having found a happiness in Scotland that has allowed her own game to flourish, Allen is ready to do anything she can to help the home of golf find a new Catriona Matthew.

“Absolutely,” she said. “I feel I have a lot to give in that sense. I understand what it takes to play at a college level and on both pro tours.

“It’s a good opportunity for an amateur here to try over in the States. If you want to play in the US it’s the way to go. You learn how to play those courses and you learn how to travel.”

And the LET Tour? “I think it’s looking up,” she insisted. “The last two years have been tough, but the Solheim is coming here (to Scotland in 2019) and that was big for us.

“We also have Helen Alfredsson as president of the LET and I think she will help find events in mainland Europe.”