ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) - European captain Carin Koch has challenged veteran Laura Davies to prove over the next month that she deserves a place in the side that will defend the Solheim Cup against the United States in September.
Davies, who turns 52 in October, is doubly determined to qualify for the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup after missing out on victory in Colorado two years ago.
The former world number one is currently outside the automatic qualifying spots but if she can get inside the top eight by Aug. 23, or gain one of Koch’s four wildcard places, she will become the oldest competitor in the history of the event.
“It’s all going to come down to this last month,” Swede Koch told Reuters in an interview during the men’s British Open at St Andrews.
”Laura in good form is always a great player so we’ll see how she does this coming month but obviously she’s like everybody else, she’s had almost two years to get points.
“She’s closing in on the top eight so for her, and for some of the other players too, it’ll be interesting to see the next few weeks and how it pans out.”
Davies has had a remarkable career, winning 80 tournaments worldwide, and if she gets back in the team she will break the record held by Koch’s captaincy rival Juli Inkster who was aged 51 and two months when she featured in the Solheim Cup in 2011.
The English great, who had never previously missed the biennial team event since it was launched 25 years ago, told Reuters last month her game from tee to green was as good as it has ever been but lamented her poor putting.
Koch refused to say whether the veteran would be part of her plans when Europe attempt to win the trophy for a third straight edition, a feat they have never achieved before, in Germany from Sept. 18-20.
She did, however, indicate that a player’s form on the greens would play a part in her thinking when it came to choosing her wildcards.
”Holing putts is an important part of the Solheim Cup, of matchplay golf,“ said Koch. ”I’ll see Laura at the Scottish Open this week and then at the Ricoh British Women’s Open the week after.
“I’ll watch all the players and look at all the stats, and probably learn more from that than anything else. Laura is an inspiration and always nice to have around but we’ll just have to see.”
Koch, 44, said she was starting to get busy speaking to the women who were in and around her team.
“I had a little talk with Caroline Masson at the European Masters a couple of weeks ago,” the Swede explained.
”She had a good week, she was tied fourth, it was great to see. I know it’s a big year for her, she’s from Mannheim, where the tournament will be played, so it’s huge for her to make the team.
“I know she’s a great player, she played very well in the Solheim Cup last time, and I just wanted to see where she was and if she was putting too much pressure on herself,” added Koch.
“I know how it is, trying to prove to your captain that your worthy of getting a spot in the team, they are tough weeks.”
Koch, who will have 10-times major winner Annika Sorenstam and Nick Faldo’s former caddie Fanny Sunesson in her backroom staff in Germany, is desperate for her players to do well.
However, with the sporting world for once focusing plenty of attention on women’s golf, she is even more keen on the two teams showing off the sport in a favorable light.
“Of course we want to win but it’s also a great week for our sport, for being on center stage, and we want to provide a good showcase for women’s golf,” said Koch.
Editing by Toby Davis