Team U.S.A. captain Juli Inkster is naturally disappointed that Stacy Lewis has had to withdraw from the Solheim Cup, however Inkster is happy to have Ally McDonald in as Lewis’s replacement.
The 34-year-old Texan has had to pull out of what would have been her fifth Solheim Cup appearance with a back injury. Despite attempting to hit some shots on Monday, it was clear to both Lewis and captain Inkster that the 12-time LPGA Tour winner would not be fit to play.
“Well, Stacy can probably tell you a little bit more about the injury, but she called me on Thursday and said that she’s having some issues with her back,” said Inkster.
“And when I said: Issues, like what kind of issues? Like issues you can play or issues that you might not be able to play?
“She goes, well, I haven’t taken a shot. I’ve just been doing some putting. My back hasn’t improved at all since Portland. So she goes, I’m giving you the heads-up, so if you need to bring Ally (McDonald) over, you should probably let her know.
“So I called, and we talked to Ally. Ally said she’ll come on Sunday. She was going to come on Wednesday. She came on Sunday. Got her caddie out of the river in Montana; we got him here.
“Stacy’s been very up front, very honest with me. She realised it’s a team event. She realises we need 12 players. And she realises also Ally needs to get a feel for the golf course.
“So she said — we decided on Tuesday — it’s kind of a day that we would decide on whether she was going to play or not.
“She went out and hit a couple shots yesterday. And it didn’t go well. And I think we both kind of knew that it wasn’t going to go well. And 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 and I have Stacy helping us out.
“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.
“So that’s how we came to the conclusion. That was the Readers Digest version, if you guys want to know.”
Lewis herself admits to not wanting to have to make the decision to withdraw, however she knew deep down it was the best thing for the team.
“It’s really been a tough, I guess, week and a half,” she said.
“It started Friday in Portland. And I thought it would be something, 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 a couple days that’s when I called Juli. And I just wanted Ally to be here — kind of peace of mind for the team and for everybody.
“And just with our working with physios at home and physios here, yesterday, it just didn’t go well. And I felt it was like something in two or three days I wasn’t going to be able to be ripping drivers.
“So it was leading — I didn’t even have to say anything to Juli. I think we both just kind of knew that was the decision to make, and told Ally to get ready. And that’s really all it was.
“It was just — 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.”
Despite no longer playing at Gleneagles, Lewis is set to stay on, with Inkster revealing she is going to assist the team as they go for their third Solheim Cup victory. One player she has been helping is her replacement Ally McDonald.
Inkster revealed that McDonald was always her first choice should a first pick not make it.
“You know what? We’ve got six great rookies,” she said.
“They’ve made the team. They’ve qualified. I put Ally in the hat because I think she was the most deserving player to be the next one up.
“And when I asked her, it was very disappointing for me. She’s probably the hardest one to tell she didn’t make the team because she really did everything to make the team, but she came up just a little bit short. And it was hard for me to tell her. And she took it hard emotionally because I think she put everything into that Canadian tournament, and she played very well.
“But I asked her I said: Listen, we have to take an alternate and you would be my first pick. And I understand if, you know, you don’t want to be an alternate.
“But she didn’t hesitate. She goes, I’d love to go; I’d love to come. I know I’ll be on more Solheim Cup’s teams and I’d love to learn.
“She had a great attitude right from the get-go, and we’re happy to have her.”
The Solheim Cup kicks off on Friday with the Foursomes and Fourballs.