Solheim Cup teammates back in action at Safeway Classic


LPGA Tour _newNORTH PLAINS, Ore. ' The members of the U.S. Solheim Cup team return to their day jobs Friday at the LPGA Safeway Classic.
Eleven of the 12 American women who defeated a team from Europe last weekend at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., are playing in the tour event at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
Among them is Cristie Kerr, the defending champion of the Safeway Classic, who was admittedly still recovering from the emotional international victory.
Just a very exciting week, she said. A lot of fun, hanging out with teammates and you know, building friendships. And we played some pretty fantastic golf.
Paula Creamer, now an opponent of Kerrs rather than a teammate, echoed the sentiment.
Its a very physically and mentally draining week, she said as she fought off a bug from last weekends nonstop action. Youre just constantly on the go, theres not much sleep.
Juli Inkster was the lone member of the Solheim Cup team who was not playing in Oregon after withdrawing earlier this week.
The biennial competition proved to be something of a coming-out party for 19-year-old Michelle Wie, who has been touted as the next big thing since she was a 13-year-old with a big swing and a mouth full of braces.
Wie helped lead the team to a 16-12 victory with a 3-0-1 record. In the end, she hoisted an American flag and paraded it around the 18th green with her teammates.
I really think she kind of came out of her shell, Kerr said.
Wie, playing a full schedule on the tour for the first time this year, said the experience should benefit her ' not just at the Safeway Classic but beyond.
I think I gained a lot of confidence from last week so I think that will help me, she said. But Ive been feeling like Ive played well all year. I just want to do better.
The Stanford student hasnt missed a cut in 13 starts. Shes been in the top 10 five times, and she ranks 17th on the money list.
Wie and her colleagues will try to maintain the Solheim buzz this week on a course theyve never seen before.
The Safeway Classic was played for the previous 19 years at Columbia Edgewater Country Club near Portland International Airport.
The par-72, 6,457-yard course features three straight par-5 holes. Lorena Ochoa, who won the Safeway Classic in 2007, said her strategy is to get to those holes at 1 or 2 under, then gain some ground.
I think its fun for us and fun for the spectators, she said.
Last year at Columbia Edgewater, Kerr beat Swedes Helen Alfredsson and Sophie Gustafson with a 15-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole.
Kerr joked that when she wins on a course, its almost a given that she wont play there again the next year.
Its par for the course for me. If I win Im guaranteed to be on a different course next year. I think (for) 10 of my 12 wins this happened, she said.
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