Monday, April 18, 2011

Race to the Solheim Cup.

As we near the middle of a three-week LPGA break, I don’t think it is too early to take a look at who may and may not be on the 2011 Solheim Cup team. The Solheim cup will be played September 23rd through 25th at Killeen Castle in Ireland.

The United States team will be captained by Rosie Jones, who has appointed Julie Inkster and Sherri Steinhauer as her assistant captains. The United States has won the last 3 Cups but with this one being played on foreign soil, it figures to be a real challenge.

United States players accumulate points by finishing in the top 20 of an LPGA tournament. The higher you finish, the more points you get. Players started accumulating points in August of 2009 and will continue to do so through the Safeway Classic in August of this year. Points are increased for the tournaments played this year by 50% to put a special emphasis on the players who are hot going into the event. Points are doubled for all four major championships. The top 10 players are in automatically. The Captain gets to add 2 players of her choice.

There are just 10 more events before the cut-off, so let's take a look at how it stands to date:

1. Cristie Kerr – 522 points
2. Morgan Pressel – 344
3. Michelle Wie – 323.5
4. Angela Stanford 294.5
5. Stacy Lewis 290.5
6. Paula Creamer 260.5
7. Brittany Lincicome 244.00

The above 7 players appear to be a lock to make the team. The only newcomer who was not on the last team would be Stacy Lewis. Paula Creamer, the top point earner the last time this event was played, has earned her position in spite of missing a good part of 2010 after thumb surgery.

Now it gets interesting, as the following players are battling for the last 3 automatic spots:

8. Juli Inkster – 163
9. Brittany Lang – 159.5
10. Christina Kim – 137
11. Kristy McPherson – 130
12. Vicky Hurst – 108
13. Katie Futcher – 85
14. Stacy Prammanasudh – 67
15. Amanda Blumenherst – 63
16. Natalie Gulbis – 59
17. Wendy Ward – 59

No other player with points would seem to be a threat as of this writing.
Inkster had said last year that she would not participate again as a player. She seems to be having second thoughts now. Her Solheim Cup record is a very excellent 15-10-6.

Here are some of the other players who have had various degrees of success:

Paula Creamer 8-2-4 (has never lost a singles match)
Christina Kim 5-2-1
Michelle Wie 3-0-1 (a fabulous rookie debut)
Morgan Pressel 3-2-2
Natile Gulbis 5-4-1
Brittany Lang 1-0-2

And now the players who have not been as successful:

Cristie Kerr 9-10-2
Brittany Lincicome 2-4-1
Kristy McPherson 1-3-0
Angela Stanford 3-4-3

As you can see, if the top 10 remains the same and Inkster decides to play, picking two names off this list will be difficult.

McPherson, who has the next highest points total, has not fared well in the past and is not currently playing very well.

Hurst and Blumenherst are very erratic and need to step it up quickly to get considered.

I’m not sure anyone knew who Futcher was until her 3rd-place finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Does Jones pick Gulbis because of her experience and previous success in this event?

The answers to these questions will slowly unfold in the months to come, though I will tell you this, I’m glad I am not the one who has to make the upcoming difficult decisions.


Mike said...

Tony, I think that, one way or another, Christina Kim is a lock. Not just because she has a good record, but because she plays well "over there." That's bound to be a consideration this time.

The wild card may be who wins the majors. That's part of the reason Paula Creamer and Stacy Lewis qualified, and it could bring in some names that don't seem likely at this point.

Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

I agree. The only problem I have with Christina Kim is that I'm not sure that her antics help us or fire up the other team.

The Constructivist said...

I would love to see Jane Park and Tiffany Joh put on charges this spring and make the team. They may be the 2 funniest people on the LPGA!