Back problems behind me says Yorkshire’s Solheim Cup wild card Jodi Ewart Shadoff

Yorkshire's Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
Yorkshire's Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
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Jodi Ewart Shadoff insists she is 100 per cent fit and ready to take on the Americans as she seeks to help Europe win the Solheim Cup for the second time in her career.

The 31-year-old, who was born in Northallerton but now lives and plays in America, underwent back surgery just days before she was named as one of four wild cards by European captain Catriona Matthew.

Ewart Shadoff is yet to win as a professional but has made a comfortable living in eight years on the LPGA Tour, including five top-10 finishes in the majors.

Two of those came prior to her Solheim Cup debut in Colorado in 2013 when she helped Europe to a convincing victory.

She was part of the team that lost to the United States in Des Moines, Iowa, and considering the back problems that have plagued her all season, somewhat of a surprise inclusion to take her place in the team to try and win the cup back at Gleneagles this weekend.

“It’s plagued me since April,” said Ewart Shadoff, who underwent the back operation last month.

“I tried to work through it but I just got to the point where nothing was really working.

“And so I managed to see a doctor that was very experienced with athletes and, in particular, golfers.

“And he basically said that I was just having some nerve pain in my lower back.

“The procedure was very simple, just keyhole.

“Went in and cleared up that nerve irritation, and now I’m back to 100 per cent.”

Ewart Shadoff also made light of comments from American player Danielle Kang earlier this week that her goal in Scotland is to “take souls” and “make people cry”.

“I think it’s just extra motivation, really, for us,” Ewart Shadoff said. “I don’t think there will be any tears on our team, just happiness.”

Her fellow European wild card, Suzann Pettersen, has little choice but to let her clubs do the talking following her own controversial selection.

Pettersen was chosen by captain Catriona Matthew despite having played just twice since November 2017 before the wild cards were named on August 12, since when she has finished 59th in the CP Women’s Open and missed the cut in the Cambia Portland Classic.

Such results hardly inspire confidence that Pettersen can play a major role in the home side regaining the trophy at Gleneagles and avoiding a third straight defeat, but the 38-year-old Norwegian insists she does not have to justify her selection.

“Well, I’m not the captain, so I don’t have to speak for that. All I have to do is show up with my golf game,” said Pettersen, who is struggling with a sore throat.

“My game is in great shape. Being here it feels like I never left the game. I don’t know whether it’s the atmosphere or the energy of the Solheim Cup that always brings out the best in all of us.

“This time around the team atmosphere has been the best I think I’ve ever been a part of. And it’s fun to be around all these new youngsters who are so energetic and really good golfers. It’s fun to see.”

Pettersen took all of 2018 off to have a baby and only returned to action in July, partnering Matthew in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Michigan, where the pair missed the cut.

The format for the Solheim Cup mirrors that of the men’s Ryder Cup, with four foursomes matches this morning followed by four fourballs in the afternoon. The same applies again tomorrow before all 12 players contest the singles on Sunday.