Solheim Cup: Dame Laura Davies plays down inexperience on USA team
By Keith Jackson at Gleneagles
Last Updated: 11/09/19 11:47am
Dame Laura Davies is confident Europe will avoid complacency when they take on one of the most inexperienced USA teams in Solheim Cup history.
Juli Inkster's bid to lead her team to a third straight victory has been hit by disrupted preparation, with Stacy Lewis being forced to pull out due to a back injury with Ally McDonald stepping into the fold to become the sixth rookie in the line-up.
Angel Yin has been unable to practice fully as her set of clubs were two days late arriving at Gleneagles, but Davies insists the European team will be fully focused on their own games rather than being distracted by events in the opposition team room.
"It's certainly been an eventful start to Solheim Cup week," Davies told Sky Sports. "Normally on a Monday and Tuesday it's all about getting a feel for the place, trying to relax as much as possible, and getting in some good practice.
"But with lost clubs for Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Angel Yin, and the USA being forced to make a late change to their team, there's been a lot more going on. Stacy Lewis having to pull out is a real shame for the Americans as she is such a big part of their team.
"However, Ally McDonald has played great this year and, if anything, she may actually be playing a bit better than Stacy. Ally might be another rookie, but she'll be ready for the challenge and won't shy away from it. It does rob Juli Inkster of an experienced player, but Stacy is staying with the team so they can utilise her experience in the team room.
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"Team USA now have six rookies in their line-up, and only three have played a Solheim Cup outside the US, but we certainly will not be getting complacent when we look at the inexperience in their team. Juli has a very solid team with players that are firmly established on the LPGA Tour, and it's a tough qualifying process in which you have to play good, consistent golf over the best part of two years."
Europe remain 13/8 outsiders with Sky Bet ahead of the 16th edition of the tournament, but Davies, who is enjoying her first experience of vice-captaincy under Catriona Matthew, believes the two teams are evenly matched and has predicted a close contest.
"The bookies currently have us as the outsiders with the Americans odds on to win, but with what I've seen from our team both on and off the course, it's even money in my book," added Davies, who remains the highest points scorer in the competition's history with 25 points from her 12 appearances - another record.
"Obviously we're hoping for a big win, but I've got a feeling it's going to be very close when it comes to the crunch on Sunday afternoon. We need to feed off the home support and the atmosphere and carry that onto the course.
"There will certainly be a great atmosphere around the first tee, where our players will feel the weight of expectation while the US team could feel a little intimidated. But I'd rather be on the home team all the way. Four of Europe's five Solheim Cup wins have been at home, and a lot of that success is down to our "13th player" outside the ropes.
"Experienced or not, every single player will feel the nerves on that first tee. It was something I suffered from, and I'll admit that if I was playing foursomes, I was perfectly happy for my partner to hit the first tee shot!"