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Both Solheim teams are top heavy

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - European captain Alison Nicholas rounded out her team on Monday, so both squads are now set for the 2011 Solheim Cup.

There will be eight rookies, three Americans and five Europeans, as well as four ladies playing their second Solheim Cup, two for each side.

When Rosie Jones added Vicky Hurst and Ryann O'Toole, people thought she may have gone a little too far down the well of talent. But she really didn't have too many options.

Veteran American Solheim Cup players like Pat Hurst and Natalie Gulbis ended 15th and 16th on the points list and really are not playing their best golf right now.

So why not bring two rookies along? For all we know, Vicky Hurst and O'Toole might be the backbone of the American squad for years to come.

The Americans will be led by Juli Inkster, who is also a vice captain, and Cristie Kerr. They have combined for 13 previous appearances and a 24-20-8 record. Angela Stanford and Paula Creamer are both playing in their fourth Solheim Cup.

The European squad is equally as top heavy led by Laura Davies. The Englishwoman has competed in all 11 previous Solheim Cups and will lead the Euros when the tournament starts in late September at Killeen Castle.

Davies has amassed a 21-17-5 record and sits a half-point behind Annika Sorenstam for most points earned at the event. Davies is also one win shy of Sorenstam's record for most victories (22) at the Solheim Cup.

Sorenstam will have a front-row seat watching Davies attempt to break her records this year as the Swede will serve as one of two vice captains for Nicholas.

In her previous 11 appearances, Davies has played 43 out of a possible 48 matches. That is six more matches than Sorenstam and 12 more than Inkster, who is third on that list.

Davies will be joined on the European team by stalwarts Sophie Gustafson (eighth appearance) as well as Catriona Matthew and Suzann Pettersen, who are both playing their fifth Solheim Cup.

The combined records for the teams slightly favors the Europeans. Their team is 56-54-25 in 34 previous Solheim Cups, while the U.S. has combined for a 49-34-22 mark in 27 Cups.

Take Inkster and Davies away from their respective squads and the records are even closer. The Euros are 35-37-20 minus Davies, while the U.S. is 34-24-16 excluding Inkster's record.

The outcome of the Solheim Cup will be determined as much by the veterans as it will by the rookies.

And most of the eight first-timers are rookies in name only. All eight have won a professional tournament, the biggest of which belongs to American Stacy Lewis, who won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco.

O'Toole, who was the wildest of the wild card picks for both teams, does have three victories on the Futures Tour, but has fewer LPGA Tour starts (9) than Davies has Solheim Cup appearances (11).

Mixing the young and old, the experienced and the rookies - that is what team events are all about.

STRONGEST AMATEUR FIELD EVER?

The U.S. Amateur at one time was considered one of the major championships. The field at this past week's Amateur was one of the strongest you will ever see.

There are were at least eight players that had won major amateur championships, the reigning NCAA Individual champion, 11 players that had already been named to either the U.S. or Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup teams, two players that won earlier this year on the Nationwide Tour and most of the top-50 point leaders from the Men's World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Three more competitors, including U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft, were added to the U.S. Walker Cup team afterwards.

You might say, so what? They were in the field, but they didn't all make the match-play portion of the championship. But, you would be wrong.

Of the top-38 amateurs in the Men's World Amateur Golf Ranking that were in the field at Erin Hills, twenty advanced to the match-play portion of the championship.

Six of the eight quarterfinalists will play at this year's Walker Cup. Among those six were two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champ Jordan Spieth, 2010 Amateur winner Peter Uihlein and Patrick Cantlay, who was the NCAA freshman and player of the year and had four top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour this summer.

This is not to suggest that we are returning to the era of Bobby Jones and Francis Ouimet, but the quality and depth of amateur golf is clearly at its highest point in quite some time.

MINI-TIDBITS

- The PGA Tour absolutely made the right move cutting The Barclays to 54 holes so players, fans and support staff could get out before the full impact of Hurricane Irene hit. Hopefully this week's host course, the TPC Boston, escaped major damage.

- Mathew Goggin and J.J. Killeen both have eight more chances to earn their third win of the year on the Nationwide Tour. If either can do so, they would earn an automatic promotion to the PGA Tour. They also stand 1-2 on the Nationwide Tour money list, and being No. 1 gives that player better status heading into the 2012 PGA Tour season. However, don't sleep on Troy Kelly in the money race. He hasn't won, but has three top-three finishes and is less than $125,000 behind Goggin on the money list.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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