Making a case for Paula Creamer at the Solheim Cup once more

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Making a case for Paula Creamer at the Solheim Cup once more

LPGA Tour

Making a case for Paula Creamer at the Solheim Cup once more

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EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France – Juli Inkster calls it the most agonizing part of the job. Captain’s picks are not for the faint of heart. Twice Judy Rankin had to tell Nancy Lopez that she wasn’t on the team. Lopez, was gracious, as you’d expect.

“She was not playing well,” said Rankin. “That’s just all there was to it.”

In many cases it’s a deeply personal situation for the captain, a decision that pierces the heart of a friend, a peer, or a mentee. They’ll mend, of course, but that doesn’t make the conversation any easier.

Rankin said Emilee Klein once called her at home to read her to the riot act after she didn’t get picked. The captain said she couldn’t blame her one bit.

“I just let her go for a while because she deserved it,” said Rankin.

It’s too early to make a definitive call for either the U.S. or European teams. With three events remaining before points are finalized for the Americans and two weeks left for the Europeans, there’s still time for players to make their moves as automatic qualifiers.

The 16th staging of the Solheim Cup will be held Sept. 13-15 at Gleneagles where Inkster, the first three-time captain, will be looking to lead Team USA to its third straight victory.

Paula Creamer reacts to a putt on the 15th green in the final round of The Solheim Cup at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. (Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports)

It will be a new-look team with Michelle Wie out with injury and Brittany Lincicome out on maternity leave. New moms Gerina Piller and Stacy Lewis will likely need a pick as well as veterans Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lang and Morgan Pressel.

Four players are a lock for 2019: Lexi Thompson, Danielle Kang, Nelly Korda and Jessica Korda.

Inkster could have as many as five or six rookies automatically qualify for her team. Experience should play a key role in who she chooses.

Could Paula Creamer get the nod once more? With seven Solheim Cup appearances, Creamer has made the team every way possible, even getting in as an alternate last time in Des Moines.

And each time she has risen to the occasion, earning three points in 2017 and two points in 2015 as a captain’s pick, going out in the anchor spot in Germany to bring it home for the Americans in the greatest comeback in Solheim Cup history.

But it’s not just her ability to put up points. Four years ago it was Creamer who pulled Angela Stanford aside and bolstered her with the confidence needed to take down Suzann Pettersen.

Paula Creamer ties her shoe on the first tee at The Solheim Cup international golf tournament. (Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports)

Creamer isn’t one for big speeches, but it’s the way she carries herself. The confidence and grit she brings on and off the course that goes a long way for rookies and veterans alike. There’s an undeniable aura around Creamer at the Solheim, and now that she has found some form of late, her ranking of 156th in the world doesn’t mean so much.

“Current form means quite a bit,” said Annika Sorenstam. “I always tell people you can’t go to Solheim Cup and find your form.”

With so many new faces on the team, something else to consider is the amount of added pressure a captain’s pick feels. It can be a tough role for a rookie, particularly overseas.

“You’re expected to play well,” said Creamer, “and you have to mentally be able to handle that.”

Creamer lives to make putts on the Solheim stage but she’s also willing to take a backseat to a partner on a hot streak. Her singles record, 5-2-0, speaks for itself, but she’s versatile when it comes finding success with a wide variety of partners.

“I know how to talk to people,” said Creamer, “I know how to figure out what kind of player they are.”

The case for Creamer extends beyond the fact that she’s second only to Cristie Kerr in all-time points scored for Team USA with 19.5.

She really is the entire package when it comes to the Solheim Cup. Her time playing as a pick and an alternate in these last two Cups showed as much of her brilliance in this event as when she came in as the top-ranked American.

As Team USA transitions to a new crop of faces, who better to show them how it’s done?

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