Morgan Pressel bolts up Solheim list

AP Photo/Gary Wiepert

With a stellar record in Solheim play, Morgan Pressel could always be a captain's pick, but she prefers to earn a spot on the team.

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Morgan Pressel couldn't stop the tears from leaking Sunday in the immediate aftermath of falling short at the LPGA Championship.

Pressel's final-round 75 left her a shot out of the playoff between eventual winner Inbee Park and Catriona Matthew, as she tied for third with Suzann Pettersen.

It was Pressel's best finish on the LPGA Tour in more than a year, but she was still upset by having come so close to her first victory since 2008. It also would have given the United States its first LPGA major champion since early 2011. One thing that did get Pressel to perk up a bit, though, was that she had moved up in the Solheim Cup standings.

"This will definitely help," said Pressel, who started the tournament at 15th place in Solheim points and is now 10th. "I said to my coach earlier this week, 'You know, if it came down to it, I feel like I'd be a heavy consideration for a pick. But I don't want to be a pick.'"

Pressel prefers to earn her way onto the squad, which would be her fourth appearance in the Solheim Cup. The U.S. team will be composed of the top eight in points, the next two players in the world rankings and then Meg Mallon's two captain's picks.

Based on her past performances, Pressel indeed would have to be in the mix to be selected if she didn't make the team otherwise. She has a 7-2-2 record in her three Solheim appearances, including going unbeaten in singles. She was 4-0 in her 2011 Cup matches, one of the brightest spots in an event the Americans lost.

Playing in the Solheim Cup is a big deal to the Americans and Europeans, who have been facing off in this team competition since 1990. The Americans will be trying to get the Cup back when they meet Aug. 16-18 in Colorado.

U.S. players received double points for their LPGA Championship finishes, and the same will be true of the two more majors that will be played before the Cup: the U.S. Women's Open on June 27-30 and the Women's British Open on Aug. 1-4.

Another Solheim veteran who moved up a little with her showing at the LPGA Championship was Michelle Wie. She finished tied for ninth for the second week in a row. Those are her only top-10 finishes this year, but it's good news for Wie that her game seems to be coming together at a great time in the schedule.

Wie climbed a spot from 13th to 12th in Solheim points; she is 4-3-1 in her previous two Cup appearances.

Mallon has talked about the comfort of having a "core five," all Solheim veterans who are currently first through fifth in points. Here's how that group finished at the LPGA Championship: Stacy Lewis (tied for 28th), Cristie Kerr (t-12), Paula Creamer (t-58), Angela Stanford (t-28) and Brittany Lincicome (t-17).

The next four ahead of Pressel in points are Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas and Brittany Lang. Thompson had the best result at the LPGA Championship among that group, tying for 28th. Thompson, Korda and Salas all would be Solheim rookies.

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A tie-for-ninth finish moved Michelle Wie up a notch, from 13th to 12th, in Solheim points.

Jennifer Johnson, who won her first LPGA title last month but missed the cut at the LPGA Championship, is now 11th in points. She also would be a Solheim rookie.

"Points could still go a lot of different ways," said Stanford, who has played on four Solheim teams. "Morgan played well here, Michelle played well. So anything can happen, which is going to make it fun to watch.

"However many [Solheim] rookies we have, they're going to bring new energy. And they are names and faces you're probably going to see in future Solheim Cups."

Lewis was a Solheim rookie in 2011, and now she is the top-ranked American player and No. 2 in the world. She is also the last American to win a major, at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Lewis was 2012 LPGA Player of the Year and briefly held the No. 1 spot in the rankings earlier this year before ceding it to South Korea's Park, who has won the season's first two majors.

Lewis came into the LPGA Championship saying she had not been playing well, despite her two victories this season. After rounds of 74-72-76-70 at Locust Hill Country Club, Lewis actually was optimistic.

"I really don't feel I played that poorly; the rough was just so tough that if you missed the fairway, you were in trouble," Lewis said. "I hit a lot of good shots. [Sunday] was nice in that I made some birdies, finally. I just didn't give myself enough opportunities.

"The next few days [are] definitely for resting, but I'll be practicing at the end of the week. I want to get my game a little bit sharper. It's just about eliminating mistakes."

The tour takes a break this week, and then resumes June 21-23 for the NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Ark. It's a 54-hole event that is a tuneup for the U.S. Women's Open on Long Island, N.Y., the following week.

Lewis is an Arkansas graduate, so she's a "local" favorite in Rogers.

"I like the course in Arkansas, and I like the U.S. Open course," Lewis said. "When we get to playing with some momentum, that's when I do better. Really, the last few weeks on tour, the weather has been weird [with heavy rains] in the Bahamas and here. I'm looking forward to just getting into a rhythm."

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