During a Solheim Cup practice earlier this week at Reynolds Lake Oconee, American players did everything but play golf. It was decided that Amy Olson is basically good at anything she tries. Jennifer Song and Brittany Altomare excel at archery. Jennifer Kupcho turned out to be the best at distance darts. And Michelle Wie West convinced her colleague Angela Stanford to jump into the lake fully clothed.
“I think people think that this week you just show up and grow together as a team,” said Stanford. “That’s not how it works.”
Twelve players stayed in Georgia for the team bonding session organized by US Captain Pat Hurst before heading to the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic this week. Six of America’s top ranked players decided not to participate.
With COVID-19 restrictions keeping players from having dinner with Hurst and potential teammates year-round, this was a rare opportunity for players to spend time off the ropes in person.
“I think it’s really important,” said Salas, who wants to set up her fifth Solheim Cup team.
“I think especially when the team dynamics change. Since I used to be one of the newbies, I’m kind of a veteran now. And now we don’t see it – it’s just the rotation is starting now – it’s been almost 10 years now.
“I think it’s important not only to show your face, to show that you are a team player, but also to get out of this inconvenience and be close to your potential teammate. Because you play for him at the end of the day. You rub and fight with him for three days or for as many matches that you play. “
The Americans have won six of 15 events at the LPGA this season, and Nelly Korda has risen to # 1 in the world after her first major title at the KPMG Women’s PGA.
Stanford, 43, goes this week as the VOA defending champion, right next door where she grew up in Saginaw, Texas.
When asked how important it is to have 40+ players on the LPGA, Stacy Lewis went beyond victory, saying that role models like Stanford and their perspective are vital to the tour, especially during transition periods like this one.
Lewis noticed that the players at the Oconee event left some bottles on the floor and Stanford picked them up.
“It’s such a small thing,” said Lewis, “to set a good example for the younger players. At some point we’ll give them the tour and they have to know how to do it, as the older players taught us. “
For big things, Lewis points out Pro-Ams, saying that as a rookie she made a lasting impression watching older players interact with sponsors.
“Pro-Ams are huge for our tour,” she said. “You know, I think that’s something some of the younger players don’t understand.
“You find it tiresome and disrupt your training, but it is the most important day of our week. So it’s little things like this that sell our tour and what really makes it work. Sometimes it takes a downturn in our tour or the economy for the younger players to see. So we hope that we can get the message across that we need to improve our tour as a whole. “
Cheyenne Knight, who joins Stanford and Lewis as Texans who won the VOA, first met Stanford more than a decade ago in Fort Worth. Knight said she was so shy she didn’t even know what to say, but that Stanford left her a pair of shoes from the 2009 Solheim Cup the next time she visited Shady Oaks.
“It was so cool,” said Knight. “I think I still have her, honestly.”
Lewis said she flew to Texas Tuesday morning and played nine holes and that her body hurt in places she hadn’t felt in years after Monday’s all-sports session.
The badminton, pickleball, fishing and shooting range, as Stanford said, laid the foundation for what’s next at the Inverness Club in September.
“There’s so much this week,” said Stanford. “The last thing you want to do is find a teammate.
“I just think it’s more important than people think it’s important.”
The seven best players in the US Solheim Cup ranking automatically qualify, along with the two best players on the role ranking who are not yet eligible to participate, as well as three captain’s tips.
Current score of the USA team:
- Nelly Korda 570.50
- Danielle Kang 476
- Ally Ewing 290
- Lexi Thompson 260.50
- Jessica Korda 256.50
- Austin Ernst 238
- Megan Khang 228
- Brittany Altomare
- Amy Olson 169.50
- Angela Stanford 164.50