Leona Maguire made a record-breaking Solheim Cup debut two years ago as she spearheaded Catriona Matthew’s European team to back-to-back wins in the contest and a second ever win on US soil in Ohio.
Maguire broke the all-time rookie points record in either the Solheim Cup or the Ryder Cup with a total of 4.5 points out of a possible five (2 points better than anybody else in the 2021 Solheim Cup), which helped Europe to narrowly win the cup 15–13.
Two and a half of those points came alongside experienced Solheim Cup campaigner Mel Reid with the pair combining to win both of their foursomes matches while they earned a half point in their four ball battle.
Reid lost on the 18th to Yealimi Noh in the singles while Maguire won a further two points in four ball (w/Georgia Hall) and in the singles, comprehensively beating Jennifer Kupcho 5&4.
However, the Englishwoman wasn’t selected as one of four wildcard picks from Team Europe Captain Suzann Pettersen who has opted for Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh, Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen and Swedish duo Madelene Sagstrom and Caroline Hedwall.
While the selections of Hedwall and Pedersen are somewhat surprising given they are both ranked outside the top-100 in the Rolex Rankings (120, 114) there was no justification to grant a wildcard to Reid based on form, despite leaving Europe without what was their star pairing two years ago.
That being said Hedwall – who will be making her fifth appearance having missed out in 2021 – has done precious little since winning the Andalucia Costa del Sol at the back end of the 2022 season.
The experiened Swede registered two top-10s and missed four cuts in what looks like a reduced schedule while Danish player Pedersen hasn’t registered a top-10 sine February and has just two over the last twelve months.
However, the Dane won three out of four matches in 2021 after losing all three of her matches in 2017.
These are two calls made by Captain Pettersen based solely on previous Solheim Cup performances of which Pedersen has form and Hedwall is a legend. But by that criteria alone, was Reid not worth a pick just to partner Maguire in the same way Justin Thomas might get the unlikely nod from Zach Johnson to resume his formidable partnership with Jordan Spieth?
Pettersen herself is no stranger to being called in from the cold and having the last laugh.
The 42-year-old retired Norwegian was picked for the 2019 Solheim Cup European team by captain Catriona Matthew, who was heavily criticized for choosing a player who had been away from golf for nearly two years on maternity leave.
Pettersen had played only two events before Matthew chose her and missed the cut in both. At the time, Pettersen was ranked 620th in the world.
The pick, however, proved to be a stroke of genius, as Pettersen holed her birdie putt on the 18th in her singles match at Gleneagle to defeat Marina Alex 1UP to win the Solheim Cup for Europe and send them on the journey towards the historic three-in-a-row bid at Finca Cortesin next month.
However, if that is the thinking behind Pettersen’s wildcard selections, might it have been worth giving the nod to the mercurial Reid who has proven to be the heartbeat of European teams in the past?
Maguire’s four ball partnership with Georgia Hall seems set in stone after a winning performance as a pair two years ago but she will be on the lookout for a new foursomes partner and after a sensational performance last year there will be no shortage of potential suitors.
From an Irish point of view, hopefully the absence of Reid doesn’t derail Maguire because as we know, partnerships and chemistry are vital in Solheim and Ryder Cups.
It’s certainly a risk from Pettersen to strip Europe of one of its great pairings but it is the skipper’s call.