Catriona Matthew picks three rookies among Solheim Cup wildcards

European captain Catriona Matthew has included three rookies, two of whom will be making history for their respective countries, among her six wildcards for the Solheim Cup in Ohio starting a week on Saturday.

Catriona Matthew is leading Europe for a second time in the Solheim Cup, having been a winning captain at Gleneagles in 2019. Picture: Tristan Jones/LET

Leona Maguire and Matilda Castren will be the first players from Ireland and Finland respectively to play in the biennial event, with Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen the third of Matthew’s newcomers.

The North Berwick woman, who is bidding to repeat her 2019 victory over the Americans at Gleneagles, has handed her other picks to England’s Mel Reid, Swede Madalene Sagstrom and Frenchwoman Celine Boutier.

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They join six automatic qualifiers in newly-crowned AIG Women’s Open champion Anna Nordqvist, English duo Georgia Hall and Charley Hull, Dane Emily Kristine Pedersen, Germany’s Sophia Popov, a fourth rookie, and Spaniard Carlota Ciganda.

Leona Maguire lines up a putt during the AIG Women's Open at Carnoustie. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

“It was pretty tricky,” said Matthew of her final selections, which were made after the conclusion of the season’s final major at Carnoustie on Sunday night.

“I think we had most of our picks set, but that last kind of one or two with so many of our players playing well this week, there were so many different scenarios.

“Last week we were going over them, and had about three or four different teams that could happen depending on what happened in the final round of the AIG Women’s Open. Very happy with our picks and how it all turned out.”

As well as Nordqvist coming out on top on the Angus coast, Hall and Sagstrom finished in a tie for second, with Koerstz Madsen also ending up in the top five.

“I think that's great,” added Matthew of the strong show by European players. “For Anna to win, that gives any player a huge boost of confidence going into Solheim.

“And then to have Nanna, Madelene and Georgia all playing well in the last major before, it is a real boost of confidence to them.”

Hall’s high finish at Carnoustie saw her bump another Finnish player, Sanna Nuutinen, out of the second automatic spot up for grabs in the LET standings.

“She was unlucky,” said Matthew of Nuutinen, who finished in a tie for 26th on Sunday after a closing 76. “She was playing well coming into it and played well this week. She just maybe didn't quite finish it off today.“Georgia had to finish top seven to get past, and so I think in the end she probably went past by quite a few points.”

Maguire, who spent the longest time as women’s amateur world No 1, has earned her pick on the back of nine top-15 finishes on the LPGA Tour this season.

“I think she's got that real grittiness,” said Matthew of the 26-year-old. “She has a great record from the Curtis Cup and played well in the match play in Vegas. I think she'll be one of these never-give-up-type players.”

US captain Pat Hurst has picked Brittany Altomare, Mina Harigae and Yealimi Noh as her three wildcards, with 2020 Scottish Women’s Open champion Stacy Lewis having to settle for a role as assistant captain in her home city of Toledo.

Harigae and Noh are rookies along with Jennifer Kupcho, who qualified automatically with Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Ally Ewing, Austin Ernst, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Megan Khang and Lizette Salas.

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