Sunday, August 4, 2013

Meg Mallon Picks Gerina Piller and Michelle Wie for Solheim Cup

Jennifer Johnson accidentally-on-purpose spilled the beans on twitter that she wasn't getting a captain's pick for Team USA, so it wasn't much of a surprise that Meg Mallon chose Gerina Piller and Michelle Wie.

Johnson had a win, 2 top 10s, and 4 top 20s in her last 9 starts, but she also missed the cut 4 times.

Piller had 1 top 5, 3 top 10s and top 20s in her last 9 starts, with only 2 MCs.

Wie had 2 top 10s and 3 top 20s in her last 9 starts, with 3 MCs and a WD.

So Mallon must have wanted the distance that Piller and Wie bring to Team USA.  It's hard to argue against Johnson's ball-striking, however, with a 75% fairways rate and 74% greens in regulation rate before the WBO.  Even if her putting is a little suspect, I think you could have counted on her to play more solidly than Wie, who's dialing it back this year and still hitting only 57% of her fairways--and JJ's probably a significantly better putter than Piller, as well.  Surprisingly to some, Wie had a good putts per green in regulation rate heading into the WBO; at 1.791 PPGIR, she was ranked 25th on tour.

If it were up to me, I would have gone with Johnson and Piller.  How about you?

[Update 1 (3:59 pm):  Here's Brent Kelley's overview.  Only thing I'd add is surprise that Nocera wasn't picked over Sergas or Ewart Shadoff.  Guess Neumann wanted a team that was used to competing against LPGAers and went with the headline-grabbing teenager (Hull) over the proven veteran who played excellent golf for Team Euro in 2009.]

[Update 2 (4:46 pm):  Interesting how times and attitudes change.  Dottie Pepper questioned the wisdom of Greg Norman's pick of Adam Scott for the 2009 President's Cup.  4 years later she's part of an analogous decision.  Hope it works out for Wie as well in the next 4 years as it has for Scott.]

[Update 3 (5:28 pm):  I'd love to say I called the Wie pick back in April, but in July I wished I had made my call on April Fool's Day!  Today, I don't doubt Wie deserved consideration, but would have made a different call myself.]


Anonymous said...

Agreed! Wie would not have been on my team. Natalie Castrales is also p,aging incredibly well if she wanted a past Solheim team member. Wie will draw a crowd by name alone. Not my pick, though. I hope she can deliver.

The Constructivist said...

She'd better play like Adam Scott did after Greg Norman picked him!

Jim C said...

I strongly disagree. I think Wie played well enough that once she was picked for the team, nobody should say that she should not have been picked. I take issue with the comment that Wie had better play like Adam Scott. Wie doesn't need to be pressured to try to be the star of the team. It will be enough if she plays at a level comparable to the other captain's picks on the two teams.

The Constructivist said...

Look, Wie wasn't clearly better than Johnson or Piller, but by the same token, Johnson wasn't clearly a better pick than Wie or Piller. It was Meg Mallon's pick and it wasn't unreasonable.

None other than Dottie Pepper questioned Greg Norman's Adam Scott pick:

Wonder what's different about this situation that made her see things differently?

On the other hand, if Wie wins a major in 4 years, like Scott did after Norman named him to the President's Cup team, then we'll look back on Mallon's pick as a turning point!

I'm not looking for immediate results from Wie in 2 weeks. It's the next 4 years I'm thinking about.

The Constructivist said...

Scott was 1-4-0 in his '09 matches, losing 4 and 3 to Stewart Cink in singles, so Norman's pick didn't give him immediate results, after all....

Jim C said...

Dottie Pepper was an American questioning a captain's pick made for a team playing against the Americans. In other words, someone from the enemy side questioned Norman's pick. If you are as strongly pro-European as Pepper is pro-American, then I guess that you are just doing what Pepper did.

The Constructivist said...

Good one! I'm definitely rooting for Team USA, but I have to call it like I see it.

Anonymous said...

“I kept thinking, `Do I want to leave five or six birdies a round at home on the couch?'” said Mallon at her press conference. “I just couldn’t do that.

Michelle Wie: 3.45 holes under par per round
Jennifer Johnson: 3.57 holes under par per round

And what does Wie do in the 3rd and 4th with her last chance to put an exclamation point on her resume while Johnson missed the cut? Does she even get close to the five or six birdies Meg claims she is good for?

WBO Round 3: 1 birdie, 3 bogeys, 1 double bogey

WBO Round 4: 2 birdies, 5 bogeys

Pants on fire. Unfortunately, the casual fan probably buys this. This is not a captain's pick, it's a sponsor's exemption.

sports medic

Jim C said...

Mallon was going to build up Wie, she wasn't going to tear down a player she did not pick. I looked at Johnson's record. Johnson missed the cut in her last three Majors. Piller and Wie each made 2 out of the 3 cuts.

Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

I am still in Scotland and don't have my stat book with me but I believe Piller has 5 top tens this year and six top twenties. She was a clear choice. The problem after that pick is that no one else stepped up. Not much depth to choose from. Both Wie and Johnson were inconsistent and missed too many cuts. Someone had to be picked. I would have picked JJ, with her victory being the deciding factor.

Jim C said...

Obvious question. Why not pick ie with her marketing appeal as the deciding factor?

The Constructivist said...

I think you'd get just as much attention by not picking her. Everyone would know JJ was chosen over her and a good portion of them would be curious to see if she could handle the pressure.

From a marketing perspective, though, the appeal of Wie is that people who love her would want to see her succeed and those who hate her would want to see her crash and burn and those who don't care about golf but know of her might try to watch a little of it.

So I could see where that and the Adam Scott analogy would be enough to tip the scales in her favor over a 3rd-year pro with 1 win to her resume and no buzz.

Makes me glad I'm not captain! If I were, I'd probably do the same as Mallon did. Since I'm not, I have the luxury of saying I'd do it differently.