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Salas sets her sights on U.S. Solheim Cup team

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Lizette Salas won’t have to look far for extra motivation this week in her bid to play in the Solheim Cup.

Salas, a rising young American talent, is No. 8 on the U.S. Solheim Cup points list. She will be paired with No. 10 Jennifer Johnson and No. 15 Nicole Castrale when the Shoprite LPGA Classic begins Friday at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club in Galloway, N.J. The top eight in the points standings at the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open qualify to play for the American team when it meets Europe Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club.

Salas, 23, in her second year on the LPGA, won three times at USC and helped the Trojans win a national championship, but she couldn’t hold back her frustration when asked Thursday if she ever played in an international team competition.

“It sucks. I had to say no,” Salas told the media in New Jersey. “But I wasn’t picked for the Curtis Cup. I wasn’t picked for the Junior Solheim Cup.”

Salas said that doesn’t mean she isn’t ready for the Solheim Cup’s team format.

“I played on a national championship team where they needed me on the final day, and we brought home the national championship,” Salas said. “And so I feel like I can bring something to the team.”

Salas is emerging as one of the top Americans with her strong play late last year and into this season. A year ago, she wasn’t among the top 200 players in the Rolex World Rankings. She’s No. 18 today, making her the fourth-highest-ranked American in the world behind Stacy Lewis (No. 2), Cristie Kerr (No. 10) and Paula Creamer (No. 11).

Though Salas is still seeking her first LPGA title, she is giving herself chances on Sundays. She lost the Lotte Championship in a playoff against Suzann Pettersen in April. She played in the final Sunday pairing at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in the year’s first major. She has four finishes of T-8 or better this season.

“Just seeing my name on the leaderboard a couple times, and being in a playoff with Suzann, and really getting that sensation of being in contention and winning a championship, I think that’s only preparing me for a bigger stage like Solheim,” Salas said.