The top candidates to make this year’s U.S. Solheim Cup team did some spirited bonding at famed Pine Valley Golf Club on Sunday and Monday.
United States captain Rosie Jones invited the top 16 players on the American points list to play a practice session at Pine Valley outside Philadelphia with the LPGA making a tour stop at the nearby Sybase Match Play Championship in Gladstone, N.J.
Pine Valley is an all-male club where women’s guest play is normally restricted to Sunday afternoons. The American Solheim Cup candidates stayed in lodging on the property Sunday night and played the course on Monday. Annika Sorenstam and the U.S. Curtis Cup team are among women who have experienced the club's hospitality as special guests.
“We had the course to ourselves,” Jones said. “It was an awesome experience, just what I hoped it would be, and I can’t say enough about the folks at Pine Valley.”
Jones had prospective members play alternate-shot, four balls and singles within their 18-hole practice sessions. On Sunday night, they bonded playing “Minute to Win It” and other games at the lodge.
“We had some matches in our practice session Monday, but it was nothing too serious,” Jones said. “It was a chance to bond, to do some team building. It was a chance for me to see players in a more relaxed environment than you get at a golf tournament.”
It also was a chance for Jones to set the tone before a hard summer run to make the team.
“There’s a real fight for the last five or six spots,” Jones said. “With the summer coming up, with three majors, there are a lot of points to be exchanged over the next three months. I let players know what I'm looking for.”
The Americans will be looking to extend their winning streak to four Solheim Cup triumphs when they meet the Europeans at Killeen Castle in Ireland Sept 23-25. The top 10 in points following the conclusion of the Safeway Classic on Aug. 21 automatically qualify. Jones also will choose two captain’s picks.
Paula Creamer, because of sponsor commitments, wasn’t able to make the practice session, but everyone else in the top 16 (and ties) in points attended. Here are the American point standings:
1 Cristie Kerr, 522
2 Morgan Pressel, 353
3 Michelle Wie, 323.5
4 Stacy Lewis, 316
5 Angela Stanford, 308
6 Paula Creamer, 263.5
7 Brittany Lincicome, 244
8 Juli Inkster, 167.5
9 Brittany Lang, 159.5.
10 Christina Kim, 150.5.
11 Kristy McPherson, 130
12 Vicky Hurst, 108
13 Katie Futcher, 85
14 Stacy Prammanasudh, 67
15 Amanda Blumenherst, 63
T16 Natalie Gulbis, 59.
T16 Wendy Ward, 59.