Solheim Cup puts ladies golf, and Melissa Reid, in spotlight

Melissa Reid has the ingredients to be a star on the LPGA Tour.

Midway through the opening day of the 2011 Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle in Ireland, it’s easy to get pulled into the event. Match play and team competition proves to be the ultimate venue to bring the often-overlooked LPGA and Ladies European Tour golfers into the spotlight.

But with fist pumps (and pony tails) flying, this isn’t your typical week on tour. In what’s supposed to be a lopsided showdown, the upstart European team is pulling a shocker. After the morning matches, the teams were all square, and now midway through the afternoon, the Euros lead three of the four matches, with the fourth one tied.

If the LPGA Tour could find a way to capture the spirit and passion of this week, they’d be faring much better in the public consciousness, although that’s a tad unfair. We can say the same thing about the PGA Tour following the always-charged atmosphere of the Ryder Cup.

But combined with the excitement generated by 16-year-old Alexis Thompson’s victory (becoming the youngest winner, by far, in LPGA history) and the media blitz that included the “Today” show, there’s a bit of buzz surrounding ladies golf at the moment.

An event like the Solheim Cup, although it might only resonate with the heartiest of golf fans, really is one of the five best weeks of golf in a given year. Take it from this golf nut, you want to find some time to watch it this weekend.

And while we’re on the topic, there’s one player who is simply stealing the stage today, and that’s England’s Melissa Reid, a 24-year-old member of the LET (who was once bitten twice by a snake in China yet proceeded to birdie the hole).

Melissa Reid
Melissa Reid has won on the Ladies European
Tour, and isn’t afraid to show a little skin.

With some tremendous energy and charisma, Reid is sinking putts from all over the place and bombing it off the tee. Her trendy look flies in the face of some of the more “polished” players out there, and after a couple hours watching, I’m sold on her having true star potential.

On the American side, it’s funny to think of Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer as veterans, but at 23 and 25, each has been on the big stage for years now. But if either could put together the type of run that world No. 1 Yani Tseng is on, they could bridge the gap from golf fans to mainstream. Michelle Wie has been the great home for a decade now. But unfortunately, the one player who would capture the most imagination, 16-year-old Alexis Thompson is sitting home, wondering if she’ll even be granted a special under-age exemption onto the LPGA Tour next year.



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