By Tony Jimenez
LONDON (Reuters) - Germany has produced champions like Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer but golf interest there is minimal and Caroline Masson says the 2015 Solheim Cup will be a great chance to show the locals what they are missing.
Masson was an integral member of the side when Europe won the biennial team event in the U.S. for the first time two years ago and she is anxious to qualify for the Sept. 18-20 matches that will be held on home soil at St Leon Rot in Heidelberg.
"Everywhere in the world there was an explosion of interest when Martin holed the winning putt for Europe in the 2012 Ryder Cup but I'm not sure there was such an explosion in Germany," the 26-year-old told Reuters in an interview.
"Nobody there could really see what it meant and it's especially hard to explain when there's little or no TV coverage back home.
"I think if people just watched one minute of coverage from the 2013 Solheim Cup every sports fan would say, 'wow, this is cool', and would be really into it," said Masson while preparing for this week's European Masters at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club on the outskirts of London.
"Bernhard has been a great ambassador," she added of the twice U.S. Masters winner.
"He's amazing and should be regarded as one of the top three athletes Germany has ever had but golf is not that popular and people over there don't see it that way."
Masson says the organizers and promoters of the Solheim Cup, the women's equivalent of the Ryder Cup, need to use September's event as a shop window for sports fans in her country.
"Germans love sport and I'm thinking if we could just explain to them about match play, about the contest between Europe and the U.S, there's so much passion in the competition that I think they would love it," she explained.
"But first of all they have to get there, they have to watch it, experience it. They don't go to golf tournaments like they go to soccer games...and that's the biggest problem.
"The Solheim Cup has definitely got the potential to change that mindset," world number 67 Masson said.
"I don't know why Germany hasn't grasped golf in recent years the way some other European countries have, it's hard to tell, hard to explain. In Britain for instance, people love soccer but they love their golf too."
There will be eight automatic qualifiers for European captain Carin Koch's Solheim Cup team and four wildcard picks.
Masson is outside the top eight at the moment but with big points-counting tournaments like the European Masters and this month's U.S. Open and British Open to come, she is hopeful of making her second appearance in the biennial event.
For the German, however, it is a case of not putting too much pressure on herself.
"It's my main goal of the year especially as it will be in my own country," added the 2012 South African Open champion.
"But you have to play well every day, every week to qualify.
"If you always have the Solheim Cup in the back of your mind it can maybe put too much pressure on a player.
"I'm letting it motivate me to practice and work hard but at the same time you have to concentrate on each tournament you go to," said Masson who picked up two and a half points from her four matches in 2013.
"It's going to be a once in a lifetime experience. I don't think there's going to be another Solheim Cup in Germany while I'm playing so obviously it's huge for me."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)