There is nobody better placed to lead Europe into battle at the 2017 Solheim Cup than Melissa Reid.
That’s the verdict of the English star’s coach Kevin Craggs.
Speaking exclusively to bunkered.co.uk, Craggs, a long-standing member of the bunkered Tuition Panel, said that he expects 29-year-old Reid to ‘relish’ the opportunity to hit the first tee shot in the match after it was revealed that she would team-up with her compatriot Charley Hull in the opening foursomes match.
They will take on the formidable American duo of Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson – and Craggs is adamant Reid will rise to the occasion.
“The European captain Annika Sorenstam is one of the most experienced players and most prolific winners in the game, so I think it says everything for how highly she regards Mel that she’s entrusted her to stand on that first tee and open for her team in the 2017 Solheim Cup,” he said.
“It’s a huge honour for Mel. She loves being in the team environment. She relishes and blossoms in that atmosphere and, in my opinion, there’s no better player to lead Europe out.”
That’s a view that, according to Craggs, has been echoed in the team room.
“Her fellow team members wouldn’t want anybody else hitting that first tee shot,” he said. “But Mel knows that she has a job to do. She’s happy to be a member of this team and will fit anywhere within it. Her whole goal all week is to make sure she puts points on the board.
“She’ll take the fight to the US – and the bigger the fight, the better. She’s tough, she’s ready and you’ll see her on that first tee, surrounded by 7,000 people, and I think she’ll relish it. There’ll be a lot of adrenaline pumping through her and don’t be surprised to see that first tee ball hit the green. She’ll embrace everything about it, believe you me.”
Another of Craggs’ pupils, Catriona Matthew will feature in the fourth and final match of the opening session. The veteran Scot will partner Karine Icher against the USA’s Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller, having been required to stand in for the injured Suzann Pettersen at short notice.
“It’s ironic,” said Craggs. “On Saturday morning, we were at Kingsfield Driving Range in Scotland where it was just business as usual, working on Catriona’s swing and so on. She was getting ready to make her way over here to be a vice-captain for Annika. I was getting ready to make my way over here to coach Mel. The next thing I know, Catriona’s on the range warming up and we’re both looking at each other like, ‘Okay, so this is happening’.
“It’s here ninth Solheim Cup and I don’t think you could pick a better person to come in at such late notice, step up to the plate and deliver. Her experience is huge and people can say what they like about her form this year but, for me, she’s been so close to some real big results. I think there’s something big around the corner for her.
“Age is an attitude and Catriona has a desire and determination to go out there and play well. I think she’s probably more excited to be out there on this team than any other team before.”