Catriona Matthew, the European captain, believes it is possible for players competing solely on the Ladies European Tour this season to force their way into contention for a Solheim Cup spot at Gleneagles in September.
The 2019 schedule, which gets underway this week with the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi, is once again somewhat light on playing opportunities for LET card holders. It consists of 17 events in total, ten of which will count in the battle for Solheim Cup qualification.
The fight for eight automatic spots – five come off the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and three from a separate points list – concludes at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in August.
The day after that event finishes, Matthew will announce her four captain’s picks for the match the following month in Perthshire, where the North Berwick woman will be aiming to emulate Paul McGinley’s winning captaincy in the 2014 Ryder Cup.
“At the moment there are a lot of possibilities, but six months is a long time in golf, so we will see who is in form at that time,” she said. “The core of the team will end up being similar, as it usually is. There will then be a few for us to debate.
“I think this next six months will be quite exciting. For someone [on the LET] to get in, they are going to have to play exceptionally well, but the chance is there. Georgia Hall played her way in the last time.”
The Englishwoman secured an automatic spot through finishing joint third in the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns, the last counting event on that occasion, after recording a string of consistent performances prior to that.
Hall, who won last year’s Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham, isn’t joining Matthew in the field for the season-opener at Saadiyat Beach, but a strong field does include two of Hall’s compatriots, Charley Hull and Jodi Ewart Shadoff, as well as Dutchwoman Anne Van Dam, a two-time winner on the LET in Spain last year. After the Abu Dhabi event, the schedule takes in three co-sanctioned events in Australia, though that figure had been four until the Vic Open, a mixed gender tournament, transferred allegiance from the LET to the LPGA.
“That was a shame, but who knows what goes on behind the scenes,” said Matthew. “I think the LET still get 30 spots, but the fact it’s not going to be co-sanctioned means they don’t get Solheim Cup points, which is tough.
“There are more positive vibes around the tour. I think you have to stay positive. There are a lot of really good players. It’s just a shame they don’t get the chance to showcase their golf more often.”