All eyes were on Michelle Wie when she made her Solheim Cup debut in 2009.
The American golfing sensation was just 19 when she was handed a captain’s pick by Beth Daniel for the biennial transatlantic battle at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.
But despite shouldering the weight of expectation, the rookie didn’t take long to settle in as she picked up three-and-a-half points on the way to a 16-12 win for the USA.
Ahead of the 16th edition of the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in September, we’re going to look back at some of the flashes of brilliance that have graced the competition over the years.
And next up is Wie’s show-stealing performance at the 11th running of the matchplay contest as America claimed the prestigious trophy for the third consecutive meeting.
WIE COMES OF AGE
Wie was the first LPGA Tour rookie to feature for the US Solheim Cup team since Paula Creamer in 2005, earning one of captain Beth Daniel’s two captain’s picks.
Her coming of age was no accident, though, with her teammates going out of their way to bring the youngster out of her shell and steel her for the battle that was to follow.
“Angela Stanford was on Michelle Wie the first day we practised,” said Daniel. “She's digging at her, and Michelle's going right back, toe-to-toe.
“And Michelle is like, ‘Why are you picking on me?’ Angela said, ‘Because you have to be tough for this event. I'm going to make you tough.’”
The tactic appeared to pay off in the opening session as Wie made four birdies in the first 16 holes alongside partner Morgan Pressel in the Friday-morning four-ball.
While the duo were not quite able to get the job done against Catriona Matthew and Maria Hjorth, picking up a halve, Wie was clearly enjoying her first taste of Solheim Cup action.
Having sat out the afternoon foursomes on Friday, Wie made all the headlines on Saturday after being sent out first in the morning four-balls alongside Christina Kim.
Wie was irrepressible as she made five birdies in the first 11 holes to help USA claim a valuable point with a comprehensive 5&4 victory over Helen Alfredsson and Tania Elósegui.
By this point, Wie was fully engrossed in the Solheim Cup. “This is the most fun I've ever had playing golf,” she said after her four-ball triumph. “I'm still shaking from the round.”
Despite Wie getting her first full Solheim Cup point, Europe squared the contest by winning the final two four-ball matches and they took their momentum into the afternoon foursomes.
The visitors won two of the first three matches to move ahead for the first time, but Wie and Christie Kerr provided resistance against Anna Nordqvist and Maria Hjorth.
Wie thrived under the pressure as she helped the US pair move into a 2-up lead after 12 holes and they managed to hold on to their slender lead to secure another point.
PASSION SHOWS THROUGH
Wie was sent out third in the singles as she was matched up against Europe’s Alfredsson again, with the two players renewing their rivalry from Saturday morning’s four-balls.
And the American demonstrated she meant business on the second hole, after Alfredsson hit her second shot on the par five second hole to within four feet of the flag.
Rather than wilting under the pressure, Wie revelled in it – knocking her approach shot inside Alfredsson’s ball and holing her put to move ahead after her opponent missed.
The match was back-and-forth over the remaining holes and the two players were all square on the 15th, before Alfredsson found herself in trouble off the tee.
Wie took advantage with a monster drive to set up a birdie that put her back in front, before making another birdie at the last to claim her third win of the weekend.
“I played with as much passion as I could, as much desire and hunger as I wanted to,” said Wie, whose point helped America ultimately retain the Solheim Cup with a 16-12 victory.