The United States suffered an early blow for this week’s Solheim Cup at Gleneagles after two-time major winner Stacy Lewis was forced to withdraw due to a back injury.
Her place in Juli Inkster’s side has been filled by Ally McDonald, meaning the visitors now have six rookies in their team against Catriona Matthew’s European side.
Lewis, who won the 2013 Women’s British Open at St Andrews, had been picked by Inkster along with Morgan Pressel to add some experience to her 12-strong line up.
However, the 34-year-old had been struggling with a back problem over the last week and appeared to know her fate sgtraight away after hitting a second shot at the 15th in a practice round on the PGA Centenary Course on Monday.
The four-time Solheim Cup player was in tears as Inkster, who was first on the scene, consoled her before some of her team-mates also arrived to give her a hug.
“I’m extremely disappointed not to be able to play,” said Lewis. “I’m a competitor and I want to play, but I had a back injury flare up last week.
“I’ve done everything I could possibly do over the last week to be ready to play. For my health and what I feel is in the best interest of the team, I decided to take myself out.
“I will take a different role with the team and will do whatever I can to help Team USA bring the Cup home.”
Inkster, who is bidding for a record this win as captains after victories in 2015 and 2017, added: “Stacy is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever met.
“I know this was an incredibly tough decision for her, but she also has the team’s best interests at heart.
“Stacy will stay with Team USA over the next week and will still be an incredible asset to our crew.”
McDonald had been named as the first alternate when the team was finalised at the ened of August and is already on site at Gleneagles.
“When I had to choose an alternate, I knew Ally would be able to step up for the challenge. She’s got a cool head but a fiery spirit. I know she’ll bring her best to Team USA,” added Inkster.
McDonald, who recorded three top-20 finishes in majors this year, said: “I didn’t want to make the team this way, but when Juli told me what was going on with Stacy, I was ready to step into either role, if that was being here and being part of the experience or being ready to tee it up.
“It was just mentally preparing for either scenario. I’m obviously very excited to play. This was a goal of mine to play on this team.”