Solheim Cup: Stacy Lewis explains tough decision to withdraw
By Keith Jackson at Gleneagles
Last Updated: 10/09/19 4:25pm
Stacy Lewis admitted that having to pull out of this week's Solheim Cup was one of the toughest decisions of her career as she prepares for her new role on the support team.
Lewis suffered a back injury in Portland two weeks ago and had been limited to short game practice since, prompting her to inform Juli Inkster of her situation and ensure that first alternate, Ally McDonald, was at Gleneagles a few days earlier than scheduled.
Two-time major champion Lewis, who has played in the last four Solheim Cup contests, hit only a handful of shots during practice on Monday before the realisation dawned that her back problem had not recovered sufficiently to play.
Inkster announced early on Tuesday that Lewis would be replaced by McDonald, who becomes the sixth rookie on the visiting team, but the Team USA captain insisted that Lewis would still have a huge role to play behind the scenes.
"It's really been a tough, I guess, week and a half," said an emotional Lewis. "It started Friday in Portland, but I thought I'd give it a couple of days and it would get better. I know my back and I know my body really well, and it's not the first time I've had back issues.
"And, when it wasn't a couple days, that's when I called Juli, and I just wanted Ally to be here as peace of mind for the team and for everybody. I've been working with physios at home and physios here, and yesterday it just didn't go well. I felt it was like something that, in two or three days, I wasn't going to be able to be ripping drivers.
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"I didn't even have to say anything to Juli. I think we both just kind of knew that was the decision to make, so we told Ally to get ready. I didn't want to have to make that decision, but it's what's best for the team and what's best for me going forward with my body."
Inkster awarded Lewis a captain's pick to add experience to her line-up, and she praised Lewis' honesty, insisting that she would remain a valuable asset to the team throughout the week.
She said: "Stacy's been very up front, very honest with me. She realised it's a team event and we need 12 players. And she realised also that Ally needs to get a feel for the golf course.
"Stacy went out and hit a couple of shots on Monday and it didn't go well, and I think we both kind of knew that it wasn't going to go well. It's just a hard decision because I picked Stacy because she's one of our leaders and I really wanted her to play.
"But I feel like I really have the best of both worlds right now; I've got a healthy player in Ally, and I have Stacy helping us out. It's disappointing for her, but I said ten years from now it's going to be a little blip in your life. You've got a lot more Solheim Cups, and you've got a lot more golf this year that you need to think about."
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Lewis thanked her team-mates for their support since it became clear she would have to withdraw, and she spent most of Tuesday's practice alongside McDonald.
"I've had time to process it and the team's been super supportive," she added. "The girls have been great and 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."