Major has Solheim Cup meaning, too

BY foxsports • July 30, 2013

Inbee Park isn't the only player in need of a big week at St. Andrews.

The Women's British Open is the final qualifying event for the Solheim Cup, which will be played Aug. 16-18 at Colorado Golf Club outside of Denver. Even though the points count double at a major, this week might be more of a chance for a few Americans to make an impression on Captain Meg Mallon.

The top eight players qualify from the points list, and they virtually certain: Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda and Brittany Lang.

Lang has a 56-point lead over Jennifer Johnson, who would have to finish alone in second at St. Andrews to bump her. The only other players who could mathematically move into the top eight in the standings are Gerina Piller, Lizette Salas, Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie. They all would have to win this week.

Salas, however, already is set to make her first Solheim Cup team through the world ranking. After the top eight on points, the next two Americans available in the women's world ranking qualify. Salas leads that list at No. 20 and the next closest is Johnson at No. 50.

So it's at the bottom where the final spot on the team could be up for grabs.

Pressel is one spot behind Johnson in the world ranking, and could easily pass her with a good finish at St. Andrews to claim the 10th spot. Piller is at No. 55 and stands a reasonable chance to move ahead of Johnson.

After that, Mallon gets two captain's picks. The Americans already have three rookies — Johnson or Piller would make four — so Mallon might be inclined to go for experience. That would bode well for Pressel and Wie.

''If someone plays well this week, they could definitely get into the conversation,'' Lewis said.

Mallon hasn't said much about how she is thinking, only that whoever doesn't get picked shouldn't seek sympathy because they had their chances to qualify. Mallon and her two assistants will be at St. Andrews all week — Dottie Pepper as an ESPN analyst and Laura Diaz as a player. Diaz qualified for the British Open on Monday.

PGA field

Despite closing with a 73 in the Canadian Open, David Hearn earned just enough money to move up one spot on the PGA Championship points list to be first alternate. That might be all it takes to get into the field next week at Oak Hill.

The PGA Championship's field is holding open two spots in case the winners of the Reno-Tahoe Open and Bridgestone Invitational are not already exempt. It's not unusual for the Reno-Tahoe winner to head straight for the final major. The Bridgestone Invitational, however, has never produced a winner that wasn't already in the PGA Championship (perhaps because Tiger Woods seems to win every year).

Only three players at Firestone are not exempt for the PGA — Satoshi Kodaira, Toru Taniguchi and Daniel Popovic.

The PGA of America gives exemptions to those in the top 100, and as expected, it went beyond that to award spots to Peter Uihlein (No. 108) and Brooks Koepka (No. 115), the two Americans who started the year with no status and earned European Tour cards.

The surprise was Ryo Ishikawa, who received an exemption despite falling to No. 158 in the world.

The Good Guys

Golf Digest came up with a unique survey for its September issue — its first ranking of the ''Good Guys'' on the PGA Tour.

Topping the list was Steve Stricker, which would come as little surprise. But the magazine put together criteria and surveyed a variety of people who could best answer the questions — tournament directors, locker room attendants, players, caddies, media, golf administrators and tournament volunteers. They were asked to score active players they know personally from 1 (awful) to 10 (great).

The criteria included the players' personal involvement in charity, being friendly to fans, gracious to the ''little people'' (drivers, attendants, volunteers), being nice when no one is looking, being good ambassadors for the sport, media friendly and keeping their entourages friendly.

Stricker had an average score of 9.25.

Rounding out the top 10 were Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Joe Durant, Adam Scott, Bo Van Pelt, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson. Five of them are in the top 10 in the world ranking. The one that stands out his Joe Durant, who lost his card and played this year through limited status as a past champion and on the Tour. Durant's ''Good Guy'' rating was 8.25 to rank No. 6.

Down to the wire

Brandt Snedeker's win in the Canadian Open makes him almost certain to end one of the most peculiar streaks in the short history of the FedEx Cup. The defending FedEx Cup champion has never advanced to the Tour Championship the following year.

Snedeker improved to No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings with 2,178 points. Only three tournaments remain before the playoffs begin. Even if he missed every cut the rest of the way, history shows his total is more than enough to crack the top 30 and get to East Lake for the Tour Championship. Besides, there is no cut at Firestone and the BMW Championship outside Chicago.

As for everyone else, the race is on to at least get to the playoffs.

Vijay Singh is at No. 138 and could lose his full card. His five-year exemption from winning the FedEx Cup in 2008 runs out this year, though he has two one-time exemptions from career money he can use. Padraig Harrington is at No. 123 and at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time.

Camilo Villegas, second to Singh in the FedEx Cup in `08, is at No. 113. He might not be in position to advance very far, but he would at least get his card back. Villegas played this year mainly on sponsor exemptions after failing to earn his card at Q-school.