Juli Inkster went with veteran leadership with her two captain’s picks while notably leaving out the most successful American Solheim Cup player in the event’s history.
Stacy Lewis and Morgan Pressel are Inkster’s two picks, it was announced Monday morning.
Inkster left out Cristie Kerr.
Kerr, 41, is the winningest American in Solheim Cup history, but she has fallen into an uncharacteristic funk at the most inopportune time. She has missed her last four cuts in stroke-play events, and three of the last four cuts in majors.
With an 18-14-6 record, Kerr’s 21 Solheim Cup points are most by any American.
Inkster needed to add experience to this American team. Five of her 10 automatic qualifiers are Solheim Cup rookies, with eight of them having no experience on the road in Solheim Cup play. The Americans will meet the Europeans at Gleneagles in Scotland, Sept. 13-15.
How will Lewis and Pressel help?
“A lot of stability, a lot of experience,” Inkster said on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive." “Really, both Morgan and Stacy, they filled what I needed. I have a lot of rookies. I have a lot of players who have played just one year. I needed a little veteran leadership, and I know I can rely on them to bring that to my team.”
And about leaving off Kerr, who has played in every Solheim Cup since 2002?
“It’s not easy,” Inkster said. “She’s kind of struggled this year. If I saw any light at the end of the tunnel, I probably would have picked her in a heartbeat. She handled it like a champion. She said. 'I’ll work on my game and I’ll be back.’”
Lewis, 34, and Pressel, 31, add Solheim Cup experience and major championship credentials.
Still, Lewis said she was a “little surprised” to get Inkster’s call.
“Not making the team on my own, that was the goal, and I was pretty disappointed,” Lewis said. “I tried to stay out of Juli’s hair the last week. I wanted her to make the decision she needed to make and not lobby for a pick. So, I was pleasantly surprised and super excited to get that call.”
Lewis is a 12-time LPGA winner who will be making her fifth Solheim Cup appearance. She’s 5-10-1 in the biennial international team event. The former Rolex world No. 1 has struggled to find her best form after taking the second half of last season off give birth to her first child, but she has proven herself on big stages. She won the 2011 ANA Inspiration and the 2013 Women’s British Open.
Pressel, who won the 2007 ANA, will be making her sixth Solheim Cup appearance. With a 10-7-2 record in Solheim Cup play, she has claimed twice as many Solheim Cup match victories as any other player on this year’s team.
A strong effort three weeks ago at the AIG Women’s British Open, where she finished fourth, helped Pressel get back on the American team. She didn’t play in the Solheim Cup in Iowa two years ago, marking the first time she failed to make the U.S. team since she turned pro.
“I’ve just been trying to play some good golf,” Pressel said. “I’ve been on the outside for so long. It was definitely disappointing to not make the team in 2017, but excited to be back on the team. So thankful that Juli has given me this opportunity, and the belief she has in me to be able to help the team.”
Lexi Thompson, Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Lizette Salas, Jessica Korda, Marina Alex, Megan Khang and Brittany Altomare qualified for the team off the U.S. points list. Angel Yin and Annie Park qualified via world rankings.
Nelly Korda, Alex, Khang, Altomare and Park will be Solheim Cup rookies.
Jessica Korda, Kang and Yin will join those rookies in making their first appearance in a Solheim Cup road game.
The Americans lead the Solheim Cup series 10-5, but they’ve never won in Scotland. They’re 0-2.
Pressel acknowledged there’s a greater challenge going to Europe.
“It’s definitely much more difficult to win overseas,” Pressel said. “We definitely have a young team without a lot of experience, but being the underdogs overseas might be helpful there. Not as much expectation, but we’re going there to win. We have some incredible players, and I think what it comes down to overseas, well, you’re always trying to play your best golf, but you really want to silence the crowds.
“Maybe we can put a little hush over Gleneagles.”
Lewis and Pressel understand their new mentorship roles on this young team.
“I think that’s why Juli picked both of us,” Lewis said. “She picked us for our leadership and to help the rookies, help them in different formats. Playing overseas is a lot different. We maybe need to play a little different roles than we have in the past, but I think we’re both up to that challenge.”