United States captain Juli Inkster insists she has the “best of both worlds”, despite losing veteran wild card Stacy Lewis just days before the start of the Solheim Cup.
Lewis had hoped to shake off a back injury in time to make her fifth appearance in the biennial contest, but was pictured in tears on Monday after the problem flared up during a practice round at Gleneagles.
The 34-year-old has been replaced in the side by Ally McDonald and that means half the 12-strong team are rookies, but Inkster was putting a positive spin on the situation on Tuesday.
“It’s a hard decision because I picked Stacy because she’s one of our leaders and I really wanted her to play,” Inkster said. “But I feel like I really have the best of both worlds right now. I’ve got a healthy player and I have Stacy helping us out.
“I’m sorry it happened this way, but I came prepared to be either a cheerleader or team member. I hope Stacy gets better soon.”@allymc10 talking about stepping in for injured Stacy Lewis on @SolheimCupUSA.#SolheimCup2019 pic.twitter.com/brl88juThk— LPGA (@LPGA) September 10, 2019
“So it’s disappointing for her, but I said 10 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.”
Lewis suffered the injury during the final qualifying event for the American team at the end of August and informed Inkster last week that she was struggling to be fit.
“It’s really been a tough week and a half,” Lewis said. “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. It’s not the first time I’ve had back issues.
“So I just thought it would be a couple days and when it wasn’t, that’s when I called Juli. I just wanted Ally to be here, kind of peace of mind for the team and for everybody.
“When I’m walking around it doesn’t really hurt but the rotation of the golf swing really just fires it up.
“I can’t go out there to ‘try’ on Friday. It’s not just fair to my team-mates. I don’t want to put Juli and the girls into a situation where they’ve got 11 (players) on Sunday, because Sunday is the most important day of this entire week.
“I didn’t want to have to make the decision, but it’s about what’s best for the team and for me with my body. But the timing is pretty horrible.
“I’m glad we didn’t do this press conference yesterday because I don’t think I could have gotten a word out. It’s really, really disappointing because this is my favourite tournament.
“There’s nothing like that first tee and it’s disappointing not to hit a shot, but I’ll be watching. I will be by Ally’s side all week.”
The injury to Lewis is not the only problem faced by the American team this week, with Angel Yin’s clubs yet to arrive following their flight to Scotland at the weekend.
A replacement set has been made for Yin and her replacement set has been “located”, according to Inkster.