The CPKC Open serves as last chance for American players to make the Solheim team — Stacy Lewis talks captaincy — Must-click links
The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Aug. 24, 2023
Welcome back to Golf Thursday! This week’s CPKC Women’s Open is the final opportunity to accrue qualification points for the 2023 U.S. Solheim Cup Team. Stacy Lewis will announce her three captain’s picks on Monday, Aug. 28, at 12 p.m. ET. But there’s a lot of time between now and the final hole on Sunday afternoon — which will decide the fate of the final five players who can automatically qualify. Let’s dive into what’s at stake, who the key players are and the chances of this week really shaking up Lewis’ squad.
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Team Europe’s captain Suzann Pettersen announced her picks earlier this week, solidifying who will be in Spain in just 29 days; meanwhile, Lewis has stated that these picks and what Team Europe is doing don’t really factor into her decision-making.
“I don’t think anything crazy is going to happen this week,” Lewis said. “I like where we are. We have some scenarios in our heads of what’s going to happen. There could be some movement within the points and Rolex. In my head, I don’t think there will be a lot of movement. Yeah, I mean, nothing of what Suzann did yesterday changes anything of what I do.”
The Americans have two automatic qualification categories to make the team, with seven spots earned from its points list and two off the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. Lilia Vu, Nelly Korda, Allisen Corpuz and Megan Khang are the first four to lock their spots on the team. Only five players could mathematically earn the last three points positions, currently held by Jennifer Kupcho (283), Danielle Kang (281) and Lexi Thompson (258). Andrea Lee (245.5) and Ally Ewing (232.5) could play their way in, earning up to 60 points this week for a victory. Alison Lee (197), in tenth place, would fall just a point shy of Thompson’s current points with a win. The two players currently qualified via the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are Rose Zhang (No. 31) and Angel Yin (No. 32); though Ally Ewing (No. 34), Andrea Lee (No. 43) and Cheyenne Knight (No. 44) are right behind them.
Solheim points are awarded for top 20 finishes at each event, doubling points at the five Majors – with all points increasing by 50% in a Solheim Cup year. So for Kupcho and Kang to lose their spots, they would have to both fail to make the top 20 and earn points, Alison Lee or Ally Ewing would have to win, and Lexi Thompson would need at least a T-6 or better finish. I know — it’s all so multifaceted and complex, but there’s a method to the team captain’s madness.
The CPKC carries a lot of weight. It was once a major (ending in 2000), but the presence persists decades later. “We wanted this event to be a part of our picks because I feel like it’s a championship event,” Lewis said.
But with every week, there’s no telling who will come out victorious; leaderboards are so incredibly stacked that it’s challenging to place one player’s game over another. I think that the little things, the intangibles will ultimately help make up Stacy Lewis’ mind. She’s mentioned that she has used a similar team-building strategy on Ryder Cup teams, looking at analytics and stats of players when it comes to different grass types and climates to players’ birdie-making abilities from certain yardages to aid her in finalizing her picks (Angel Yin is known to play extremely well on bermudagrass).
Regardless of how this week pans out, the mix of players that could potentially represent Team USA is overall a great bunch. There are varying levels of experience, the eagerness and tenacity of rookies (Corpuz and Vu) will bode well with the spunky vets like Kang and Thompson, should they qualify. There are players who are wildly accurate tee to green. And there are players who remember the heartbreak of falling short in Toledo two years ago — the Americans have a chip on their shoulder and something to prove — it’s game on in Spain and I can’t wait.
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Five at The IX: Stacy Lewis talks all things Canada and Solheim in pre-tournament press conference
Q. Some of your past best finishes at the CPKC Women’s Open have been in Vancouver. Runner-up finish as well as, I believe, a T6 a couple years ago. Just in general I know the Pacific Northwest means a lot to you, especially with the Portland event next week, but just being back here — how exciting is that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think it’s the style of golf to be honest that fits me. You got to hit it straight. There is rough. The big trees, similar to a Portland [course]. Really shapes the holes for you, shapes shots. So it’s not really a golf course you go bombing around and get away with things.
Just fits my game more than anything. I would like it to be a little warmer.
Other than that we’re fine.
Q. As you said earlier, golf is kind of on the low priority at the moment. It has been a crazy couple days, crazy couple months, crazy year since being announced as Solheim Cup captain. This is your last event to solidify your 2023 team. Just what have the last couple days been like for you?
STACY LEWIS: Gosh, it’s really been — the last couple weeks now have just been busy. If I’m not doing something on the golf course I’m either doing something with my family, with my daughter, or it’s emails — looking at stats, organizing things for Solheim week, looking at who is playing well, who is not, what the stats look like, figuring out the 12 on Sunday, and already starting to look at pairings; because you base that on who you’re going to pick on Sunday.
So there is a lot running through my brain right now. It’s hard to focus on the golf course with just all the other things that are going on. But I’m okay with that. It’s been so much fun so far, just to be able to be out here week to week to talk to the girls, really know how they’re playing, to knowing where their head is at, what kind of headspace they’re in.
It’s important to know which format you’re going to put them in based on how they feel about their game as well.
So there is a lot that goes into it. It’s been overwhelming and I’m hoping things settle down, but I think the next three, four weeks will be pretty crazy as well.
Q. I’m curious, you were talking about balancing the responsibility of playing as well as captain duties. On like a day-by-day basis, tomorrow and Friday, hopefully Saturday and Sunday — what do you think that’s going to look like? You’ll play the round and you’ll want practice time, but how do you make it all work logistically?
STACY LEWIS: I don’t know. I make it all work. Perfect example, yesterday I dropped my daughter off at day care at 8:00 and didn’t start my practice until noon. That is just kind of what days have looked like, and you practice time has to be more shorter, a little bit more condensed.
You know, I saw nine holes yesterday and nine holes today, so in a normal week I would’ve liked to have seen the whole golf course, but I’m going to rely on my caddie a little bit more this week.
As soon as I’m done here today and done practicing I’ve got a list of emails I need to send and things I need to work on. It’s just nonstop. It is what it is right now. It’s a good problem to have.
Q. Obviously it’s a lot of work. What’s it mean to you to be representing your country and being the captain?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it’s a lot of responsibility. I learned from the start that I get to decide everything. We’re deciding menus to the schedule of the week to what do you want to do for this, what the clothes look like, what the bag looks like.
You literally get to decide everything. It can be a little overwhelming at times, but organizationally we’re in a good spot. Now it’s focusing on just who is going to make the team and pairings.
But trying to get feedback from the girls, factoring all that in, making sure they’re involved with it. We have calls set up for the next couple weeks. Yeah, I got a lot in my head right now spinning, a lot on my list, but we’ll check things off as they come and just keep working on it.
Q. I wonder over the last few weeks or months how many of the different possibilities for picks have gone through your head and changed just depending week to week how players are playing? And second, are you using any analytics to make your choices?
STACY LEWIS: Lots of analytics, yes. That was a push of mine from the very start. I learned that the men’s Ryder Cup teams have had [analytics data] over the last — I think it’s three — Ryder Cups and I wanted to figure out how we could get that for our team.
Honestly, if you gave me some people’s stats without names I could probably tell you who they are. That’s how much I know their games and the style of golf that they play and how they play.
As far as the list of players, it’s kind of been a thing where I’ve — you know, I think to last year, I had probably 20 to 25 players and then you shrink it down to 16, and then you’re now down to 13 or 14. The list has just become smaller.
A lot of it is the data for me. You can see trends, see how people are playing — it’s really crazy. If you look back at somebody that wins and look back over the last few weeks, their stats start trending in the right direction. You can see when good play is coming.
I don’t think anything crazy is going to happen this week. I like where we are. We have some scenarios in our head of what’s going to happen. Could be some movement within the points and Rolex. In my head I don’t think there will be a lot of movement.
Q. Overall an exciting week for you. I know a lot of things, as you said, are happening off the course. Being here and having an event like this, CPKC Women’s Open, as a premier event to make those decisions, what does that mean to you?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, one, I guess we need to thank everyone here for letting us do this. It does probably distract a little bit from the tournament at hand.
But you need a big event like this. We wanted this event to be a part of our picks because I feel like it’s a championship event.
As far as the golf courses — we play at this event year out, they’re always so good, they’re always a challenge. I mean, you want this to be a part of the rotation.
When so we were looking at schedule figuring out when we were going to announce our team, I just wanted to make sure this tournament was here. They’ve been tremendous hosts so far.
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