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Solheim Cup: Teenager Charley Hull should relish first appearance

Rob Lee Posted 12th August 2013 view comments

Europe have lost eight of the 12 Solheim Cups and never won the event in America - and I am not confident they will be able to arrest that statistic this week.

They pulled a miracle out of the hat at Killeen Castle two years ago; with 45 minutes to go the Americans had the competition won, but Suzann Pettersen pulled out a superb finish to beat Michelle Wie in the singles and help earn her side a famous victory.

Hull: the 17-year-old English player has received a Solheim Cup pick

Hull: the 17-year-old English player has received a Solheim Cup pick

It is going to be completely different in Colorado and I just cannot see a European win. For it to happen, Liselotte Neumann's squad will need Pettersen to be Ian Poulter-esque again and plenty of her team-mates to step up.

Charley Hull was one of Neumann's picks and at just 17 years of age this is going to be a great experience for her - and if things don't go to plan, at least she will have been blooded in the cauldron-like atmosphere of a Solheim Cup, which will help her next time.

You could never afford to leave her out because she is such a powerful player, but this time I don't think her form warranted a pick.

Rob Lee
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However, Laura Davies won't be part of Team Europe - for the first time in the competition's history - after missing out on a pick.

Laura is a very individual person and someone I don't think necessarily buys into the team dynamic, but you could never afford to leave her out because she is such a powerful and player.

This time, though, I don't think her form warranted a pick, and the same could be said of Michelle Wie who, despite achieving only two top-10 finishes in 2013, has been surprisingly called up to the American side by Meg Mallon.

Wie is not really featuring week in, week out on the LPGA Tour - though she was still just outside the top dozen on the Solheim Cup points list which perhaps shows the Americans do not have great strength in depth.

But she has been given the nod because Mallon did not want another rookie, with Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas and Wie's fellow wildcard, Gerina Piller, all making their first appearances in the event.

I think Mallon will protect Wie a little bit by not playing her in every match and give the players who qualified by right, including world number two and recent British Open champion Stacy Lewis, more of a go.

The captains' picks are intriguing and we will see if Neumann and Mallon got them right.

Boost

There a few players that can come out of the US PGA Championship feeling proud of themselves, meanwhile, most notably the winner, Jason Dufner.

I know Dufner finished miles behind Tiger Woods at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational but his fourth place at Firestone - just his second top-10 of the year - boosted him massively ahead of Oak Hill, and he subsequently picked up his first Major.

That will delight Jason, especially after he slipped up at the PGA two years ago and lost to Keegan Bradley, but I also think Rory McIlroy should be thrilled with what he achieved in upstate New York en route to a tie for eighth.

Things still went wrong for Rory but he played with a lot of heart and skill; the way he made four birdies on the final eight holes on Friday to make the cut was brilliant, while a 67 on Saturday and a 70 in the final round, with various missed chances and a triple bogey, was commendable, too.

Plus, Henrik Stenson continued his run at the top of the game with a fourth top-three finish in a row - he did the same at the Scottish Open, the Open Championship and the Bridgestone - and, as a result, has moved back into the world's top 10.

Dufner, McIlroy and Stenson will be the happiest, then, but Adam Scott should be feeling okay, too, because even though he finished five shots behind the winner at Oak Hill he could quite easily have matched Dufner if the tables had run his way.

Trigger

However, Jim Furyk will be disappointed that he was not able to win his second Major after leading going into the final round, but it looked so difficult for him to pull the trigger on his shots; he was second guessing, coming back for a second look and it all took too long.

Furyk must find a quicker, more direct way of playing otherwise his twitchiness is going to get worse, and Woods has much to ponder as well, whatever he says, after finishing tied for 40th at Oak Hill at four-over-par.

He has won five times this year and tops the rankings by a considerable distance but it is Majors that count and he is missing something in them.

Woods' Major strategy seems to involve making fewer mistakes than the rest of the field and successfully defending the lead on the final day - something that has worked wonders, but is not working at the moment.

And he doesn't seem to have a second gear or be willing and able to play with more verve in order to come from behind to win a Major - something he has never done.

Next year, though, three of the Major venues stack up nicely for Tiger, as in addition the Masters at Augusta, he has the Open Championship at Hoylake and the US PGA Championship at Valhalla - all places where he has won before.

If Woods is going to get away from number 14, it could happen in 2014.

ROB'S SKY BET TIPS

I will tip Team America to regain the Solheim Cup on home soil and Hideki Matsuyama to claim the Wyndham Championship; Sergio Garcia played fantastically well to win in North Carolina last year and secure his Ryder Cup place and I think he will go well again, but Matsuyama, who shot 66 in the final round at the US PGA, is my man.

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