LPGA notes: Wie, Pressel still in Solheim mix
It’s crunch time for the Solheim Cup, and believe it or not, Michelle Wie is very much in the conversation for making the U.S. team.
How can it be that a woman with only two top 10s to her credit in 2013 and a putting posture that screams desperation is still among the top 13 American players? Answer: We’re not that deep.
Wie would need to win next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open to make the team on points. She’s currently 13th on the list, with 160.5.
Otherwise, captain Meg Mallon would need to make Wie one of her two captain’s picks, which isn’t out of the question considering that she already has three Solheim rookies who are locks for the team (Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda and Lizette Salas) and Wie is a two-time participant. Thompson and Korda are currently in on points while Salas is safely in at No. 21 in the rankings. (The top two players in the Rolex Rankings not otherwise qualified through Solheim points earn spots.)
Jennifer Johnson is the only player who can finish second at the British Open and crack the top eight (assuming current No. 8 Brittany Lang finishes outside the top 12 at St. Andrews). Gerina Piller, Salas, Morgan Pressel and Wie would need to win at the Old Course to jump into the top eight.
A strong tournament from Piller would move the long-hitting Texan ahead of Johnson and Pressel in the rankings. But if Piller doesn’t qualify on her own, it would be difficult to imagine Mallon adding another rookie to her squad as a pick. There’s a lot to be said for experience on the Solheim’s pressurized stage.
Beth Daniel made Wie a captain’s pick in 2009, and the Hawaiian put on quite the show at Rich Harvest Farms, going 3-0-1. It was the first time Wie was able to bond with players for days on end, sans the entourage.
“I think this is the most fun I’ve ever had playing golf,” Wie said of her Solheim debut. “It was just unbelievable.”
Of course, she came into that Solheim Cup with some key notes from putting guru Dave Stockton. If Wie makes the team again, her parents might want to book another session.
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OH SO CLOSE: Morgan Pressel’s hubby got upset when she looked up her standing in the Solheim Cup race. Heading into the British Open, Pressel is .01 outside of making the team. Andy Bush wanted his wife to concentrate on preparing for St. Andrews and let the rankings race take care of itself.
“I just need to go out and win a golf tournament,” Pressel said.
The newlywed had fallen into the trap of trying too hard for much of 2013. The tide began to turn at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, at which Pressel had a chance to win for the first time since 2008. She has felt good about her game since tying for third at Locust Hill.
“I feel like I can win again,” Pressel said. “There was a time when I didn’t think that way.”
A wrist injury incurred last year in Rochester hindered Pressel’s ability to earn valuable Solheim points. A good week at the Old Course would move her ahead of Jennifer Johnson in the Rolex Rankings, giving her the team’s 10th spot.
If that doesn’t happen, Pressel is an easy pick for Mallon. With an overall Solheim Cup record of 7-2-2, Pressel hasn’t lost a Solheim match since she was a rookie in 2007. Her singles record is 3-0. And that includes a victory over Annika Sorenstam in 2007 – in Sweden.
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BACK TO QUESTION OF DEPTH: Only three Americans have won this season (Stacy Lewis, Cristie Kerr and Jennifer Johnson).
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THE DEFENDERS' LINEUP: Team Europe is a bit more up in the air, with four picks allotted to captain Liselotte Neumann. As it now stands, Suzann Pettersen, Carlota Ciganda, Catriona Matthew and Caroline Masson are the top four in the points standings, and Beatriz Recari, Anna Nordqvist, Karine Icher and Azahara Munoz would get in on the Rolex Rankings.
With the ISPS Handa European Ladies Masters being played this weekend, there are two more chances for European women to make a charge.
Former New Mexico player Jodi Ewart Shadoff posted a career-best T-3 last week in Toledo on the heels of a T-4 at the U.S. Women’s Open. She seems like a hot pick for Neumann. Caroline Hedwall, one of the young stars of the 2011 team, would be another strong bet for Team Europe, along with Germany’s Sandra Gal.
Gal, Masson and Gwladys Nocera are all playing in England this week.
Big names who need to make a big impression at the Old Course: Laura Davies, Sophie Gustafson, Maria Hjorth and Karen Stupples.
And let’s not forget young Charley Hull, the teenager who specializes in finishing second.
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KIDS' PLAY: The U.S. Girls’ Junior is underway this week in Fort Wayne, Ind., and, as always, the USGA’s roundup of storylines provided entertaining insight regarding the championship’s participants.
To prove these girls can do more than play golf ...
Jessica Spicer, 15, of Bahama, N.C., competed in the 2010 Synchronized Skating National Championship. . . . Anina Ku knows what it’s like to perform on a big stage. The 12-year-old from Basking Ridge, N.J., played the violin at Carnegie Hall at age 4. . . . Sixteen-year-old Gigi Stoll of Beaverton, Ore., advanced to the finals of the Elks Free Throw Shooting Championship at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., where she finished sixth.
And from the it’s-who-you-know department ...
Kelly Whaley, 16, is the daughter of Suzy Whaley, the teaching instructor who gained fame by qualifying for the PGA Tour’s 2003 Greater Hartford Open. Kelly won the 2011 Connecticut Women’s Amateur. . . . Riley Rennell’s caddie, Matt Gallant, looped for President Barrack Obama when he played a round at The Floridian with Tiger Woods in 2012. . . . Isabella DiLisio was a standard bearer at this year’s U.S. Open at Merion. DiLisio’s great-grandfather, Nick Ciocca, caddied for Ben Hogan when he won the 1950 U.S. Open, also held at Merion.
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GO BIG OR GO HOME: Inbee Park Tweeted a picture of herself standing next to her new red Ferrari FF. Major style points for the planet’s hottest golfer.