There isn’t a lot of room for jockeying in this final week of Solheim Cup qualifying for the Americans.
U.S. captain Meg Mallon has pretty much narrowed the team to where 13 players are vying for 12 roster spots.
“It really looks like 13 players have separated themselves, but it’s still very tight right now,” Mallon told GolfChannel.com. “I couldn’t be happier. For the most part, they’re playing well. We have a great team coming together.”
Mallon heads to the Ricoh Women’s British Open this week knowing there are seven locks among the 10 players who will qualify to make the team on points or rankings, though nine spots seem all but solidified. So, that really leaves a musical chairs kind of week with four players jockeying for three spots. Whoever secures the ninth and 10th automatic roster spots at St. Andrews this week will shape who Mallon takes with her two captain’s picks.
The American and European teams will be announced after Sunday’s finish to the Women’s British Open with the Solheim Cup scheduled Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club.
The top eight in points automatically make the team, and six of those spots have already been clinched: Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome and Lexi Thompson.
While Jessica Korda isn’t a mathematical lock at seventh in the point standings, it would take an extraordinary circumstance this week to bump her out. Even in the unlikely event Korda is bumped in points, she still likely qualifies off the rankings list. Brittany Lang is eighth in points and also likely to make the team through the rankings if she’s bumped out in the point race.
The top two Americans on the Rolex world rankings list who aren’t already qualified for the team on points also automatically make the team. Lizette Salas (No. 20) is a lock for one of those spots with Jennifer Johnson (No. 50) and Morgan Pressel (No. 51) waging a fierce Solheim Cup battle for the final roster spot off the rankings. Johnson is just three hundredths of a point ahead of Pressel in the rankings.
If the U.S. Solheim Cup were settled today, the roster would sport at least four players who have never played in the event: Thompson, Korda, Salas and Johnson.
Michelle Wie, despite an up-and-down summer, is very much in the mix to make the team, Mallon confirmed.
Here’s a look at the four players who appear to be vying for the last three roster spots, two of which will be captain’s picks:
• Johnson: If the team were set today, Johnson would claim that last automatic roster spot off the world rankings list. She played her way into Solheim Cup consideration winning the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic earlier this year and then bolstered her standing tying for seventh at the Marathon Classic two weeks ago. She can bump her way into the top eight in points with a third-place or better finish at St. Andrews this week. She’s the only American left who can move into the top eight in points without winning the Women’s British Open.
Johnson, 21, has never played in the Solheim Cup before, though she helped the Americans win the 2010 Curtis Cup.
• Pressel: Pressel must win the Women’s British Open to make the team on points. She is in position, however, to grab that final roster spot in the world rankings with a good finish at St. Andrews. That last rankings roster spot appears to be down to Johnson (No. 50), Pressel (No. 51) and Gerina Piller (No. 55).
Pressel, 25, was 4-0 in the last Solheim Cup. She has played on three American Solheim Cup teams and is a proven match-play force as a former U.S. Women’s Amateur champ. With her form returning, she appears a strong bet to make this team as a captain’s pick if she fails to qualify.
• Piller: Piller, 28, is tied for 10th in points and must win the Women’s British Open to make the team on points. A strong finish at St. Andrews, however, could give her the last roster spot off the rankings list. Piller has never won an LPGA event, though she is becoming a regular on tour leaderboards. She also has never played in a Solheim Cup.
• Wie: At No. 13 in points, Wie must win the Women’s British Open to make the team. She is the lowest player on the points list who mathematically still has a chance to automatically qualify on points. Wie, 23, has shown flashes of returning to form this year, with back-to-back top-10 finishes in June, including at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. She has, however, been erratic. After those top-10s, she failed to make the cut in back-to-back weeks and has missed seven cuts this season. Wie is a two-time LPGA winner who played in the last two Solheim Cups, proving a force in her first.
Here is how the race shapes up:
American Solheim Cup point standings (top eight qualify):
1. Stacy Lewis, 857
2. Paula Creamer, 526.5
3. Cristie Kerr, 484.5
4. Angela Stanford, 406.5
5. Brittany Lincicome, 269
6. Lexi Thompson, 261
7. Jessica Korda, 247.5
8. Brittany Lang, 241
9. Jennifer Johnson, 185
T-10. Lizette Salas, 174
T-10. Gerina Piller, 174
12. Morgan Pressel, 164.5
13. Michelle Wie, 160.5
14. Katie Futcher, 116.5
15. Nicole Castrale, 104
*The top 20 places in an LPGA event are awarded points with 60 points for first place, 30 for second, 28.5 for third and all the way down to three points for a 20th-place finish. Points are doubled in majors.
American Solheim Cup world rankings standings (top two qualify)
1. Lizette Salas (No. 20)
2. Jennifer Johnson (No. 50).
3. Morgan Pressel (No. 51).
4. Gerina Piller (No. 55).
5. Mo Martin (No. 73).
*Two captain’s picks will fill out the American squad.