Meg Mallon, captain of the United States Solheim Cup team, has learned to trust her instincts on the golf course. She's still learning what it takes to be captain of her country's 12-player roster.
The Cup event begins with match play Friday in Parker, Colo., with two foursome matches in the morning and four four-ball matches in the afternoon. The first matches are scheduled for a 7:30 a.m. tee time at Colorado Golf Club.
"I made the picks. I had all these stats in front of me, but it really came down to my instincts," said Mallon, who solicited direct advice from five-time Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange.
Mallon's team includes the two captain's picks, rookie Gerina Piller and enigmatic 23-year-old Michelle Wie, and 10 others who earned their spots based on points to date on the LPGA Tour schedule.
Wie might have been viewed as a preculiar call considering the world-ranked No. 82 female golfer hasn't won since 2010 and missed the cut in 16 of her past 40 events. To Mallon, Wie's distance off the tee was too enticing to keep at home. She said she didn't want "five to six birdies a day at home sitting on the couch.
"It's tough being a captain's pick. There's a lot of pressure that that player puts on themselves being a pick," Mallon said. "So Michelle Wie for me was a no-brainer in that position. She has Solheim Cup experience. She lives on this stage almost every day that she plays. So walking into this environment is not going to affect her."
Cristie Kerr was one of the U.S. 10-player team to speak out in support of the selection.
She makes a lot of birdies," Cristie Kerr said. "And match play is a different animal. She can have a bad hole and then bounce back and make three birdies. Her length is going to be an advantage. It's about the golf course, and what game suits the course, and what player completes the team and has the personality that helps mesh the team together. That's Michelle."
Strange advised Mallon in July to remember why she was in this position. He said, "'You always trusted your gut and your instincts when you played golf, you should do the same thing as a captain,'" Mallon said.
Europe won the Cup in 2011 at Killeen Castle in County Meath, Ireland, but has never won on American turf since the event began in 1990. With six returning players from the victorious 2011 team and a group of talented rookies, Captain Liselotte Neumann has no fear that her team will be the first to earn a successful title defense.
"We've been waiting for two years to get our Cup back," said Paula Creamer, who is competing on her fifth U.S. Solheim Cup team this year. "We've never lost on home soil and we're all very aware of that. It's little bit of added pressure but I still think we can use our crowds to be great motivators for us and I think we'll all feed off of that."