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Ernst not stressing over Solheim Cup bid

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – There are two leaderboards at the Kingsmill Championship this week.

There’s the tournament leaderboard.

And there’s the one you can’t see with the naked eye. There’s the Solheim Cup leaderboard.

Austin Ernst is focused on the first, knowing it’s the best way to move up the latter.

“Obviously, the Solheim Cup is in the back of my mind, because I really want to make that team, but stressing over it isn’t going to do anything,” Ernst said. “When I’m on the course, it doesn’t cross my mind. If I go win tournaments, go play well, it will take care of itself. Solid golf will take care of all that.”

Ernst, 25, played some solid golf Friday in a continuing bid to make her first American team. She posted a 3-under-par 68 to move among the top 10 on the leaderboard at the time she signed her scorecard. The top 20 Americans at tournament’s end earn Solheim Cup points.

Ernst is seventh on the American Solheim Cup points list. The top eight at the conclusion of the Ricoh Women’s British Open on Aug. 6 will qualify for the team. So will the two highest-ranked Americans in the world rankings who aren’t already qualified.

Ernst is among players looking to give American captain Juli Inkster some fresh new faces. Ernst made a hard charge to make the team two years ago but finished 13th in points. Inkster went with Brittany Lang and Paula Creamer as her captain’s picks.

“I wasn’t top 12 in points, and I didn’t make the team,” Ernst said. “I don’t fault Juli at all for not picking me. But it definitely gave me a little bit more motivation.”

Ernst, who won the Portland Classic in 2014, has three top-10 finishes this year, including a tie for second at the Kia Classic.

“This year, how my game’s been going, I feel like I’m playing the best I have,” Ernst said. “I’m trying to make it on my own this year.”

If qualifying ended today, Ernst and Mo Martin would make the American team for the first time. Three big-name veteran Americans sit on the outside of qualifying. Michelle Wie is 10th in points, Paula Creamer is 21st and Morgan Pressel is 22nd.

U.S. Solheim Cup points

1. Lexi Thompson, 492

2. Stacy Lewis, 377.5

3. Cristie Kerr, 338.5

4. Gerina Piller, 313

5. Jessica Korda, 282.5

6. Brittany Lang, 241

7. Austin Ernst, 210.5

8. Angela Stanford, 182.5

9. Brittany Lincicome, 177

10. (tie) Michelle Wie, 155.5

10. (tie) Mo Martin, 155.5

12. Danielle Kang, 153

13. Alison Lee, 124

14. Lizette Salas, 117.5

15. Marina Alex, 107.5

Points are awarded to top-20 finishers in LPGA events, with first place earning 60 points, second place getting 30, third place taking 28.5 and on down to three points for 20th place. Points are doubled in major championships.

U.S. Solheim Cup World Ranking

1. Mo Martin (No. 35)

2. Brittany Lincicome (No. 38)

3. Alison Lee (No. 48)

4. Danielle Kang (No. 53)

5. Michelle Wie (No. 55)

The two highest-ranked Americans who aren’t otherwise already qualified make the team.