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U.S. Team Lacks Depth In Solheim Chase

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK | Colorado in August is on all of their minds, even during a June major championship in New York. “I’ve been thinking about the Solheim Cup since the beginning of the season,” Michelle Wie said just minutes after shooting a second-round 68 at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Wie had just played herself back into contention in a major for the first time in years, but her face lit up when the conversation turned to the matches, which will be held Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club. Entering the week, Wie sat in the precarious 13th spot on the U.S. Solheim points list. “I don’t look at the points,” she said. “If I play well I earn points and if I don’t, I won’t. But definitely one of the most important things for me is to make the team. Every opportunity where there are double points, it means a lot.” Players earn double points in major championships, of which there are three on the LPGA schedule in a nine-week span beginning with the LPGA and extending through the Women’s British Open. So, more than a few players have a chance to earn a spot on the roster. “It’s hard those last few events when all you’re thinking about is making the Solheim Cup team,” U.S. captain Meg Mallon said. “I’m not going to have much sympathy for those who are not inside (the top 10).” If that wake-up call wasn’t loud enough, Mallon fired another shot across the bow by taking the top eight players on the points list out to dinner in Rochester with her three assistants: Beth Daniel, Dottie Pepper and Laura Diaz. “It was really a good bonding experience,” Mallon said. “You can tell that (the players) are excited, uptight, all those emotions that they should have going into this last stretch.” Mallon gave each player – Stacy Lewis, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda and Lizette Salas – a white bracelet with “I ♥ USA” in red and blue, a less-than-subtle reminder of what the Solheim Cup is all about. “What’s a comfort for me is that I have a solid five players that I’m looking at to be leaders for these young players,” Mallon said. “I saw it at the dinner; they want to bring these players in and have them be successful.” That is all well and good and exactly what a captain should say. But then Mallon went a step too far by adding: “American golf looks fantastic with these young players.” Whoa, wait a minute. Really? Perhaps Mallon sees something the rest of us don’t, but with the noteworthy exceptions of Lewis and Kerr, there seems to be a dearth of great American women golfers at the moment, young or otherwise. Just look at the numbers: this year only two of the eight players at Mallon’s dinner – Lewis and Kerr – have victories. The third-ranked player, Creamer, hasn’t won a tournament since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open, which came while Korda was still in high school. Stanford and Korda both won in 2012, but Lincicome and Thompson haven’t hoisted a trophy since 2011. Salas, the eighth-ranked player on the Solheim list, has never won an LPGA event. Those facts are not an indictment of the LPGA, but quite the opposite: Women’s golf is better and deeper than ever before. That depth simply doesn’t include an abundance of Americans. Only Lewis, who has two wins in 2013 and four from 2012, cracked the top 10 in the Rolex Rankings entering the LPGA Championship.


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