KINGSBARNS, Scotland – No one envies Juli Inkster. One the one hand, she’s rich with options for Solheim Cup picks. But she also has to play the role of heartbreaker to half a dozen players this weekend.
“I thought Germany was hard,” said Inkster. “Germany was easy compared to this.”
Add in Jessica Korda’s questionable health and Inkster’s head must be spinning. She’ll pick a third player on Sunday to serve as alternate, and it’s at her discretion whether or not she reveals to the public the player’s name. The alternate has to be on the team roster prior to lineups being announced on Thursday of Solheim week.
LPGA rookie Angel Yin could throw a wrench in the current standings with a top-5 finish at the Ricoh Women’s British Open and secure her spot via the world rankings. The hard-hitting, hilarious player sits tied for seventh at 8 under.
Currently, Brittany Lincicome and Lizette Salas are in off the world rankings. Salas fell back with a 1-over 73 on Saturday and is tied for 40th. Lincicome posted a third consecutive 71 and is T-48. A strong finish from Yin would knock Salas out of an automatic spot.
If the standings were finalized today the following 10 players would be in: Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller, Cristie Kerr, Jessica Korda, Danielle Kang, Michelle Wie, Brittany Lang, Lincicome and Salas.
It would seem there are likely seven additional players in the mix for picks or automatic spots on the team: Nelly Korda, Austin Ernst, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Angel Yin, Angela Stanford and Mo Martin.
(Note: Ally McDonald and Jaye Marie Green could get in with a victory on Sunday, but they are seven and nine shots back, respectively.)
Ernst, Korda and Stanford all missed the cut and need a pick. Inkster said she feels like she can’t go wrong in her selections, but wants to make sure she gives the people who worked hard for two years credit.
Ernst, a winner in 2014, narrowly missed two years ago and ranks 11th on tour in birdies. Her chances seem strong.
“Last year I relied a lot on my gut and kind of went out of the box,” said Inkster. “This year, I’m not so sure. I think I have too many players that are playing good to do that.”
Inkster has spoken highly of 18-year-old Nelly for months now and invited her to every team function. Her chances are high.
Both Creamer and Pressel made it to the weekend at Kingsbarns. While Inkster knows what she gets with the two savvy vets, their chances seem slim.
Both Kerr and Lewis brought back strong reviews of Yin to Inkster, calling the youngster fearless. She too might need to automatically qualify though to have a chance.
“The shots she can hit, nobody else can hit,” said Lewis. “She’s got Ariya’s (Jutanugarn) length but high and straight. Doesn’t quite know how to manage it yet, that’s the only thing holding her back.”
Yin, who played for Team USA at the 2015 Junior Solheim Cup along with Nelly, said she made the Solheim Cup a goal at the start of the year: “I eyed it down.”
Yin can, at times, be quite shy. Two years ago in Germany, she said she “sat in the corner” around the pros. Now that she’s on tour, she feels on level ground.
Even communicating with Inkster has grown easier for Yin in recent months.
“I saw her yesterday,” said Yin on Friday, “told her how great the cheesecake was here.”