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Saturday, May 6, 2017

As Usual, Match Play Presents Some with Opportunities

The Lorena Ochoa Match Play is interesting, simply because so many of the American and European Solheim Cup players are in the field. With the Solheim Cup being played later this year, it's a chance to catch your captain's eye.

And it appears some players might be doing just that.

Michelle Wie

There are, of course, players currently favored to make their teams who have been unexpectedly beaten early on -- Gerina Piller, Stacy Lewis, Jessica Korda, Brittany Lang and Austin Ernst for the US, while Suzann Pettersen and Carlotta Ciganda are the main Euro players to bow out. This isn't necessarily a bad sign, this early in the year, but it certainly doesn't engender any confidence in your captain!

And there are other players -- most notably Cristie Kerr, Charley Hull and Karine Icher -- who are doing exactly what we would expect in match play.

But it's the bubble gals -- and some who don't even have a bubble maker yet -- who are making a real case for captain's picks.

Perhaps the most surprising for the US is Michelle Wie (12 in the team rankings), who has won her matches 6&5 and 3&2. The improvements in her play this season are clearly evident in this format! Other US players making a case are Marina Alex (18 in the Rankings, who plays Wie today), Cydney Clanton (34 in the rankings, who plays Kerr today) and Angela Stanford, who at number 9 is probably making Captain Inkster feel a lot better.

The Euro rankings are trickier to figure out, because they get some players from the LET points list and some from the Rolex world rankings. But the most surprising Euro player has to be Pernilla Lindberg (T70 in the LET rankings and 114 in the Rolex), with 2&1 and 4&3 victories. Unfortunately, she has to play Ariya Jutanugarn today. Still, this has without a doubt put her firmly on Captain Sorenstam's radar.

Likewise, Sandra Gal (15 in the LET, 73 in the Rolex) is doing well. Karine Icher is the last of the Rolex qualifiers currently on the team, but this performance will likely guarantee her a captain's pick -- even if she loses to Stanford today.

Match play events always seem to carry extra meaning. There aren't very many of them on any tour's schedule, and they can be important indicators of who might be a strong member for events like the Solheim Cup. And it looks like this week's event will be no different.

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