Players are charging up the leaderboard midway through the AIG Women’s Open in hopes of securing one of the coveted automatic qualifying spots on the U.S. and European Solheim Cup teams.
The automatic qualifiers will be finalized Sunday with the captain’s picks being revealed Monday.
American hopefuls Mina Harigae, Yealimini Noh and Lizette Salas are making a strong case through the first two days at Carnoustie Golf Links, where they all sit inside the top 10.
Harigae opened with rounds of 70-67 to jump to the top of the leaderboard on Day 2. She currently sits at No. 11 in the U.S. Solheim Cup standings. The top seven players in the standings upon completion of the Women’s Open will automatically make the team. The top two ranked players in the Rolex Rankings who haven’t already qualified via the point standings will also make the team on Sunday. The final three spots on the U.S. team will be selected by Captain Pat Hurst.
Noh has been a fixture on leaderboards in the latter half of the season and made a run in multiple major championships. She opened with a 69 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where she finished T-15. She followed that performance with a third-place showing at the Amundi Evian Championship, where she played in the final group and narrowly missed a putt on the 72nd hole to join the playoff won by Minjee Lee. She sits at No. 13 in the U.S. Solheim Cup standings.
“I just want to focus on the golf that I'm playing,” Noh said this week. “I always tell myself, if I play well, then it will get me where I want to be, which is on the Solheim Cup.”
While Noh is chasing a Solheim Cup debut, Salas is in hot pursuit of her fifth appearance. The veteran made it widely known at the KPMG Women’s PGA that it was her goal to play her way on to that team again after a slow start to the season. She finished runner-up and is closing in on an automatic spot on the U.S. team. She currently holds the first of two qualifying spots via the Rolex Rankings.
“There's a lot at stake here, a lot of spots are up for grabs,” Salas said Friday. “Obviously I want to secure my spot and represent the red, white, and blue, but at the same time just have to focus on what I can control.”
On the European side, Georgia Hall, Leona Maguire, Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Madelene Sagstrom are giving Captain Catronia Matthew something to think about as their team is finalized on Sunday. They’re also all positioned inside the top 10 at Carnoustie.
Hall, who jumped to the top of the leaderboard Friday with rounds of 68-69, sits on the cusp of an automatic qualifying spot. The European Team will include the top two players in the LET point standings. The next four spots will be determined by the Rolex Rankings. The remaining six spots will be named by Captain Matthew.
Hall currently holds the fourth qualifying spot in the Rolex Rankings at No. 43 in the world, but she will need to hold off Mel Reid at No. 47 and Leona Maguire at No. 48, both of whom could leapfrog Hall in the rankings with a strong showing at Carnoustie. Maguire is on Hall’s tail and just two strokes back.
“I've had the same approach to Solheim Cup all year. I feel like my golf results will take care of things like that,” Maguire said Friday. “This is a big week. I want to do as well as I possibly can and the better I do, the better it is for Solheim Cup.”
Captain Matthew is in the field at Carnoustie, where she is playing alongside Sagstrom, who made a strong case for a captain’s pick with an opening round 67 to share the first-round lead.
“Of course I want to show off my game to her. I can't deny that,” Sagstrom said Thursday. “I'm playing well at the moment. Who knows where her mind is at right now? I'm just trying to play as well as I can to give myself a chance for that team.”