Ally McDonald, a Good Bet

Alternate Ally McDonald Not Intimidated at Solheim

Not to beat a dead horse, but the slim American loss at Solheim was not a tragedy, and regardless of who one is rooting for, it was a great competition, albeit a bit on the take-your-time side. To further the summary, get Julie Inkster back if you possibly can, and let’s give another round of applause for Suzann Pettersen for producing the perfect end to a near-perfect week. So what about Ally McDonald, an alternate who replaced Stacy Lewis on fairly short notice?

McDonald is a winning type out of Mississippi State, and was out hitting balls to get ready if she got the call for Solheim. Although she didn’t get the call she would have preferred, things eventually unfolded that necessitated her presence at the tournament in Scotland. Stacy Lewis experienced some late back trouble, and thought it best not to continue with the original plan.

Lewis is a former number one. She’s been there and been there and been there, overcoming skeletal, muscle trouble from the beginning. She’s brave and she’s smart, but she is also a family woman now, and that takes precedence over the former obsession of being the greatest golfer in the world. That being said, no one would be so bold as to guarantee that she would have won had she gone to Scotland instead of McDonald. That is an unknowable, so we need to let that one alone. Was McDonald a good idea? Yes, she was. Julie Inkster, as she almost does, made the right call, and the golfer in her third year as a pro was ready. America didn’t lose that tournament. Pettersen stepped up and took it away.

McDonald is one of those stories we often hear on the LPGA, in which the school only had a men’s team, and so she played and won on that. Incidentally, that’s a story we hear too often. Let’s get a little more of the old Title IX spirit down into the high school ranks, and fill out those golf programs – what do you say?

McDonald was a precious commodity at Mississippi State. During her tenure there, she won five tournaments, and was twice named All-American.  With original plans to become a physical therapist, she also deals with some health issues, although different from those of Lewis – Type I diabetes. She’s an excellent singer, which always goes a long way with me.

More importantly for Julie Inkster, however, was what I believe is the stat of stats when choosing a team player. In her rookie year of 2016, she made eight top 10s on the Symnetra Tour, right off the bat, so to speak. In 2017, on the LPGA, she played 24 events and made the cut in 19 of them. Last year, she played 25, and made the cut in 17. That looks like a person who prefers hanging around the upper end of the board on a regular basis, and barring some unexpected development, will only get better through time. She has earned a measly $1,124,033 in three years (that’s irony, folks) and that stands to grow as well.

Macdonald won on her first day before losing the next two , but winning and losing doesn’t have much to do with the question of her suitability for the team. She made it crystal clear that she isn’t buffaloed by competition. She has the look of an opportunity person, not a frightened person.

It’s a shame that the Solheim Cup doesn’t roll around more often. I could get used to it being played every season, and could tolerate a few more match play and mixed format events through the year. From what I saw this past week, I wouldn’t be surprised or unhappy to see McDonald appear on the team again. Now, if we can just talk Inkster into another go-round…

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