Juli Inkster ventured into the Golf Channel booth at the Meijer LPGA Classic early Friday afternoon to talk about the potential difficult choices she may have to make as the U.S. Solheim Cup captain.
“It’s a headache waiting to happen,” Inkster told Golf Channel’s Tom Abbott and Karen Stupples.
A few hours later, she must have felt a migraine coming on, because a quartet of U.S. Solheim Cup hopefuls on the points-list bubble made impressive moves that can’t help but impress Inkster. Seriously, Inkster has to relish seeing Alison Lee, Lizette Salas, Gerina Piller and Kim Kaufman making bold moves with the Solheim Cup matches moving closer. The hotter her team is going to Germany, the better for Inkster.
Lee shot a 6-under-par 66 Friday to move into a three-way tie for first place at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Mich. Salas posted a 69 to move into that tie atop the leaderboard. Piller shot a 65 to move one shot off the lead, and Kaufman posted a 67 to move two back.
All three are on the bubble in the points race to make the American team that will travel to meet the Europeans in the Solheim Cup matches in Germany Sept. 18-20. Qualifying for the teams ends at the conclusion of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open on Aug. 23.
Piller currently holds down the eighth and final qualifying spot on the U.S. points list. Salas is 10th. Lee, a rookie, is 19th on the points list but seventh on the Rolex world rankings list, where the top two will make the American team. Kaufman is 16th on the points list.
Inkster made a special effort to see Lee’s game up close in Michigan this week.
“I played a practice round with her, just to get to know her a little bit this week,” Inkster said. “She’s a great player. I’d love to have her on the team. I think I need to see a little more. Austin Ernst is playing well. Lizette Salas is playing well. I don’t know, it’s a cluster.”
American Kris Tamulis and Jaye Marie Green are far down the U.S. points list but would move into the conversation with a win this weekend. Tamulis (68) and Green (69) are both one shot off the lead.
U.S. Solheim Cup points list
1. Stacy Lewis 994.5
2. Lexi Thompson 606.5
3. Michelle Wie 463.5
4. Cristie Kerr 445.5
5. Brittany Lincicome 418
6. Morgan Pressel 380.5
7. Angela Stanford 326.5
8 Gerina Piller 288.5
9. Paula Creamer 277.5
10. Lizette Salas 261.5
11. Jessica Korda 259
12. Brittany Lang 253.5
13. Austin Ernst 191.5
14. Mo Martin 173
15. Christina Kim 132
*The top eight in points at the conclusion of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open (Aug. 23) earn automatic spots on the American team. A victory this week is worth 60 points, second place is worth 30, third 28.5, with points awarded down to 20th place (3 points).
Rolex World Rankings list
32. Paula Creamer
33. Jessica Korda
34. Lizette Salas
41. Brittany Lang
43. Mo Martin
*The top two Americans in the Rolex women’s world rankings who aren’t already qualified on points automatically make the team.