The United States suffered an early Solheim Cup blow when 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 straight 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.”
Asked where the disappointed ra nked in her career, she added: “It’s up there pretty high. I was glad we didn’t do this press conference yesterday because I don’t think I could have gotten a word out.
“So I’ve had time to process it and the team’s been super supportive. The girls have been great. They’ve helped me a lot through it. It’s just really, really disappointing because this is my favourite tournament we have. And that first tee, there’s nothing like it. So I’m just disappointed I don’t get to hit that shot. But I’ll be watching.”
Inkster, who is bidding for a record third win as captain 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. She 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 was 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,” said Inkster.
On her contingent of newcomers having increased, the US captain said: “We’ve got six great rookies. They’ve made the team. They’ve qualified. I put Ally in the hat because I think she was the most deserving player to be the next one up. She was probably the hardest one to tell she didn’t make the team, but she had a great attitude right from the get go, and we’re happy to have her.”
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.”