Leona Maguire handed wild card to become first Irish Solheim Cup player

Leona Maguire will become the first Irish player to compete in the Solheim Cup after being handed a wild card by European captain Catriona Matthew.

Matthew also selected AIG Women’s Open contenders Madelene Sagstrom and Nanna Koerstz Madsen for the biennial contest against the United States from September 4-6, along with Matilda Castren, Mel Reid and Celine Boutier.

Anna Nordqvist’s victory at Carnoustie secured the three-time major winner a seventh consecutive Solheim Cup appearance alongside fellow qualifiers Georgia Hall, Emily Pedersen, Sophia Popov, Charley Hull and Carlota Ciganda.

Maguire’s tie for 13th on Sunday was her ninth top-15 finish of the season and Matthew said: “Leona has had a fantastic year this year.

“Obviously she was world number one amateur for a couple of years and it’s maybe just taken her two or three years longer than perhaps others to settle I think as a pro.

“I think she’s got that real grittiness. I think she’s a really good match player, has a great record from the Curtis Cup and played well in the match play (event) in Vegas. I think she’ll be a solid, one of these never-give-up type players.

“It’s the first Irish player, the first Finnish player (Castren). I think it’s great to see other players from different countries getting on the side.”

Leona Maguire
Ireland’s Leona Maguire reacts to a putt on the 18th green, during day three of the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie (Ian Rutherford/PA)

Sagstrom bogeyed the 72nd hole to finish just a shot behind Nordqvist at Carnoustie, while Madsen was tied for the lead with her playing partner until making a double bogey on the last.

“It was tough telling her (about the wild card) afterwards because you could tell she was so disappointed with her finish,” Matthew added.

“Hopefully looking back, I think after a couple of hours, she’ll realise she had a great finish and it was her first time really up there with a real chance of winning. The boost of getting into Solheim will hopefully help.”

Nanna Koerstz Madsen
Nanna Koerstz Madsen shanked her bunker shot on the 18th during day four of the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie.

Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen began the AIG Women’s Open in the final automatic qualifying place on the European points list and was just two shots off the lead after 54 holes, but a closing 76 meant she was overtaken by Hall.

“She was unlucky, she was playing well coming into it and played well this week. She just maybe didn’t quite finish it off (on Sunday),” Matthew said.

“There’s one or two who you know are really close to making the team and it is obviously a difficult conversation. But she was very good about it.”

World number one Nelly Korda and Danielle Kang had already secured their place on the United States team and were joined by Ally Ewing, Austin Ernst, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Megan Khang, Lizette Salas and Jennifer Kupcho.

US captain Pat Hurst will announce her three wild cards on Monday afternoon.