Nancy Lopez already is getting emotional. And the Solheim Cup is still several weeks away.
“I truly believe this will be the team that gets the Solheim Cup back,” the U.S. captain said, breaking into tears at a news conference Aug. 8 during a two-day practice session at Crooked Stick Golf Club, where the event will be played Sept. 9-11.
“That’s five times, just today (that Lopez has cried),” assistant captain Donna Caponi told The Indianapolis Star – and that was before the news conference.
The top 15 players in the U.S. Solheim Cup points standings were invited to the session, and 13 of the 15 attended.
Only Juli Inkster (No. 3) and Natalie Gulbis (No. 6), who played in the previous weekend’s Scandinavian TPC in Sweden, were not there.
The top 10 players through the completion of the Wendy’s Championship for Children Aug. 28 automatically make the team, then Lopez will round out the 12-person squad with two captain’s picks later that day.
“They’re all playing well. They’re bonding as a team,” Lopez said on the final day of practice. “This team has the best spirit of any team I’ve seen.”
The European team won the last Solheim Cup, 171⁄2-101⁄2, in Sweden in 2003, the largest margin of victory in the event’s history. The U.S. leads the series, 5-3, but Europe has won two of the past three.
On American soil, however, the U.S. is 4-0, and has high hopes the streak will continue at Crooked Stick, host site of the 1993 Women’s Open. The team spent much of its practice time in foursomes play (alternate shot), which has been a U.S. weakness in recent competitions.
“I think this is the best thing Nancy’s done, getting us out here to practice alternate shot,” American veteran Meg Mallon, who is No. 2 in points behind Cristie Kerr, told The Indianapolis Star. “We’ve learned a lot of things today that ordinarily we wouldn’t learn until early the tournament week.”
There will be plenty of jockeying going on for the final few spots on the U.S. squad.
Only 40 points separate No. 10 Michele Redman (322.5) and No. 13 Wendy Ward (282.5), with Dorothy Delasin (304.5) and Heather Bowie (289.5) in between.
Stacy Prammanasudh (241.5) and Beth Daniel (235.5), who has competed in seven of the eight Solheim Cups, round out the top 15.