Solheim may motivate Wie, pull her out of funk


If something is going to spark Michelle Wie’s game this summer, it’s the Solheim Cup.

That’s what Rolex world No. 2 Stacy Lewis and No. 3 Suzann Pettersen believe.

Wie tees it up at the Shoprite LPGA Classic Friday looking to improve her position in the U.S. Solheim Cup points standings in a bid to make the American team for a third time. Wie’s struggles have put her in a hole with just seven events remaining to qualify.

Full U.S., European Solheim Cup team standings

Wie is No. 16 on the U.S. points list. The top eight at the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open qualify for the Aug. 16-18 Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club.

Wie is No. 11 on the U.S. Rolex World Rankings list. The top two qualify for the team. The final two American roster spots will be captain’s picks.

Pettersen told media in a news conference Thursday that she has witnessed how the Solheim Cup transforms Wie. Though Pettersen defeated Wie in Sunday singles in Ireland when the Euros won the Solheim Cup two years ago, she said Wie gave her a terrific battle.

“My game plan was just to wear her out by hitting fairways and greens and making putts,” Pettersen said. “I was just waiting for her to hit a few wild shots, and then she would lose it, but she didn’t. She really kept it together.

“I was fortunate enough to win that match, but she played fantastic golf. I think the surroundings at the Solheim bring her passion and her heart into it. I think, sometimes, she plays with a lot of pressure from herself. Just seeing her in that environment an entire week, it really brings out her enjoyment of being out there playing golf, the way she did growing up.”

Lewis agreed.

“Some of Michelle’s best weeks have been in Solheim Cups,” Lewis said. “I don’t know what it is. If she could find that every week . . . She can still hit shots that nobody else on tour can hit. She’s just that talented.

“She’s kind of far down on the points right now, and she’s got some work to do. I don’t know, I mean, she’s taken ownership of her game. She works hard. She wants to be on the team. I know she does, but I don't know.”

Wie was dominant as a captain’s pick helping the Americans win at Rich Harvest Farms four years ago. She was 3-0-1 that week. Wie is 4-3-1 overall in Solheim Cup play, but she’s struggling again this year. She has played into the weekend in just five of 10 starts this year and two of those starts were in events without cuts. She missed 10 cuts in 23 starts last year.

Back in 2006 when the first Rolex world rankings list was released, Wie was No. 3. She was just 16. She’s No. 100 this week.

American captain Meg Mallon isn’t discounting Wie making a summer run at the American team with so many Solheim Cup points available in three summer major championships.

“Michelle’s working as hard as anyone out there,” Mallon said. “She still makes a lot of birdies in a round. Unfortunately, she’s canceling them out, but she’s working to get out of that. We all know her talent and potential is pretty incredible.”