Christina Kim is on the U.S. Solheim Cup hot seat this week at the LPGA’s Safeway Classic in North Plains, Ore.
The top 10 in the American Solheim Cup points standings automatically qualify for the team at Sunday’s scheduled conclusion of the tournament, and Kim is holding that 10th spot.
Kim’s the only player who can get bumped off the list with the top nine having already clinched spots. That’s notable because it means Juli Inkster has made the team. The 51-year-old Hall of Famer said she’d only play if she qualified on points, and she has secured a spot at No. 9 in the standings. Inkster is also an assistant captain. Inkster will make her ninth U.S. Solheim Cup team, an American record separating her from Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel.
The Americans will be seeking to defeat Europe for the fourth consecutive time when the Solheim Cup is staged Sept. 23-25 at Killeen Castle in Ireland.
Kim’s still vulnerable with 150.5 points, but only three players have the ability to pass her. At No. 11, Katie Futcher can pass Kim with a finish of 10th place or better in the Safeway Classic, depending on how Kim plays. The top 20 in the tournament earn points. No. 12 Kristy McPherson can pass Kim with a finish of eighth or better. No. 13 Vicky Hurst needs a win to have a chance to pass Kim.
Yet even if Kim gets passed, she’s still a strong candidate as one of Rosie Jones’ two captain’s picks.
Though Kim has struggled of late – she has missed four of her last five LPGA cuts – she’s 5-2-1 in two Solheim Cup appearances. Kim’s fiery, cheerleading persona irritated some Europeans when the Americans won at Rich Harvest Farms two years ago, and her presence would promise to add some intrigue to the event.
Futcher has made the biggest move among players outside the top 10 in this stretch run, but she’s never played in the biennial competition. McPherson helped the Americans win two years ago. Veterans Wendy Ward, Pat Hurst and Natalie Gulbis are possible captain’s picks as they round out the top 16 in the standings.
Jones told Golfchannel.com Wednesday that current form is important as she evaluates who her two captain’s picks should be, but so is experience and personality as it relates to team chemistry.
“I will consider those things equally,” Jones said. “Going to Europe, it can be brutal as far as the crowds, so experience is something I’ll look at.”
Jones said players won’t see her on the course much this week.
“I’m coming in late on purpose,” Jones said. “I’m staying out of their hair. They don’t need me adding any more pressure.”
Joining Inkster as Americans clinching spots on the team are Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Lang.