Roll dice? She's game

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

Rosie Jones fully understands the hot seat she created for herself.

Asked about the thought process that went into finalizing the U.S. Solheim Cup roster she will be taking to Ireland next month, Jones looked up from her lunch with a grin. "You mean my picks?" she said.


Well, yeah. Particularly the player with just seven LPGA starts under her belt.

From the outset though, Jones has acknowledged the addition of Ryann O'Toole isn't exactly conventional thinking — "a very wild pick," she called it before making the announcement late Sunday.


In golf parlance, it's a risk/reward play. And as far as Jones is concerned, the 24-year-old rookie is worth the risk.

"She has game, and she has spunk," Jones said Wednesday. "Those are the two things I wanted out of her. And she's playing really well right now. If she wasn't doing all three of those things, I wouldn't be looking at her."

O'Toole placed ninth at the U.S. Women's Open, hovering near the lead for each of the first two rounds. She also tied for fifth at last week's Safeway Classic, the final chance before locking in the Solheim roster.

They are the only two top-10s of her career. Then again, that's more this year than any American who didn't make the Solheim roster — and even a couple who did.

"She accomplished a lot in those seven events," Jones said.

Corey Pavin rolled the dice with Rickie Fowler at last year's Ryder Cup, to largely good reviews. Usually, though, captains prefer to take the risk with veteran hands.

O'Toole isn't exactly the equivalent of grabbing the Nationwide Tour's top gun, but it's close. Then again, it's hard to find any sort of comparison.

Perhaps if Tiger Woods had been picked for the 1996 Presidents Cup team after two top-10s in his first four events. But even Woods had to wait a year, taking his place for the 1997 Ryder Cup.


This is like grabbing a player off a recent lineup from Golf Channel's "Big Break" series. And, well, it is — O'Toole was part of the series' Sandals Resort edition a little more than a year ago. And she didn't even win.

Sharp-eyed viewers, though, could spot her quiet confidence. It came out again at the Women's Open, where she didn't even wait until play began to introduce herself to the top names.

Seeing an opening for someone to join Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen and Natalie Gulbis in a practice round, O'Toole grabbed it. After she bashed a few 300-yard drives past theirs, they took notice.

"They're turning around and looking at her and going, 'Who is that?'" Jones said. "Every single one of them has said to me she's got game."

A bold play for O'Toole that paid off. Jones bets it happens again in Ireland.