ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – A pair of former Solheim Cup players who are on the outer edge of consideration for the next American team made bold first-round moves Thursday at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Nicole Castrale, who helped the Americans win the Solheim Cup in 2007 and ’09, opened with a 5-under-par 67. So did Ryann O’Toole, a member of the American team that lost in Ireland two years ago.
Castrale, 34, faced challenges the last three years to find the form that made her an LPGA winner and Solheim Cup player. She had season-ending shoulder surgery in 2010 and then put her game on hold with the birth of her first child, Eleni, in 2011.
“I knew it was going to be an uphill battle trying to make the Solheim Cup team this year,” Castrale said. “I started last year ranked 500th in the world.”
Castrale has moved up to No. 75 in the Rolex world rankings.
The top eight on the U.S. Solheim Cup points list automatically make the team after the conclusion of this week’s Women’s British Open. The top two on the world rankings list who are not already qualified also make the team.
Castrale is 15th in points and fifth on the U.S. Solheim world rankings list. She can’t make the team on points even with a victory, but she might still be able to make it off the world rankings. Variables in the world rankings make projections difficult with other players involved.
“I still have a chance this week,” Castrale said. “I’ve been fighting all year. We’ll just see what happens.”
O’Toole is way down the qualifying lists. She’s 41st in points, and she is No. 234 in the Rolex world rankings.