Published January 13, 2015
Morgan Pressel wishes she had a dollar for every time someone asked her about her chances of making the Solheim Cup team.
And if she had a dollar for every time she thought about it?
"I'd be a bizillionaire," Pressel said Thursday, candid as ever after opening with a 6-under 66 in the Women's British Open.
Pressel has played on three Solheim Cup teams for the Americans, but she was on the outside of the standings coming into the final qualifying event of the year. She can't earn one of the eight spots available through points even if she were to win this major championship. Her best hope is through the women's world ranking — the top two Americans not already eligible are taken. Pressel is three-hundredths of a point behind Jennifer Johnson.
Johnson opened with a 74 and is in danger of missing the cut.
"It's something I don't want to miss and something that I'm definitely thinking about — and at the same time, trying not to think about and trying to worry about focusing on this week," Pressel said. "That was my biggest goal coming into this week, to not think about Solheim Cup."
The score suggests she achieved her goal.
"I only thought about it maybe a handful of times on every shot," she said with a laugh. "Not every shot. When it did come up, I tried to say, 'Hey, there's a lead out there and I'm trying to chase that lead. I'm not worried about finishing in the top 20 or worried about my ranking or anything like that. If I play my game, I'll be on that team."
Pressel figures she missed the equivalent of a year battling a wrist injury. She still played, but was not effective. Her game began to turn around at the LPGA Championship, where she narrowly missed a playoff won by Inbee Park.
SAVED BY THE RAKE: Jodi Ewart Shadoff was headed for trouble on the 16th hole when her approach caught a slope above a deep pot bunker and was headed for the sand. A rake placed to the right of the bunker stopped her ball.
She took a free drop for relief, and the ball rolled quickly into the bunker, nearly hitting the caddie of Inbee Park, unaware of what was going on above him. Ewart Shadoff was able to place the ball, getting an enormous break. She pitched it to about 5 feet.
And then missed the putt, anyway, making bogey.
THE OLD COURSE: Inbee Park was going over her scorecard when she couldn't remember how she made birdie on the sixth hole.
That's to be expected.
The Old Course is a mystery even to those who have played it dozens of times. With dunes and rolling terrain and bunkers where you least expect them, a familiar line from caddies at St. Andrews after a tee shot is, "That should be fine unless it's in the bunker." With few exceptions, the landing area is not clear from the tee box.
A media official tried to help her out in describing the sixth hole by telling Park No. 6 was the hole with the blind tee shot.
"All the drives are blind on the front nine," she said with a laugh.
Park also struggled with the accent of one Scottish reporter who asked her if she felt the crowd behind her.
"The crows?" she asked.
Fair question. There are plenty of those, too.
THE LOCAL GIRL: Catriona Matthew received hearty applause when she was introduced on the first tee, and for good reason. Matthew, a former Women's British Open champion, is one of only two players in the field from Scotland.
Imagine how the gallery would have felt to know that other player in the group — Morgan Pressel — graduated from St. Andrews.
Just not the St. Andrews down the street.
Pressel graduated from St. Andrews School in Boca Raton, Fla., and she plays out of St. Andrews Country Club.
"I cracked myself up last week when I posted a photo of a little tee marker at home and said, 'What's all the fuss about St. Andrews? I'm already here,'" she said. "I feel right at home. It's almost as warm today, too, which was nice."
MEMORIES: Lorena Ochoa, who won the first Women's British Open held at St. Andrews in 2007, is retired.
That would make it a toss-up between Catriona Matthew and Stacy Lewis as the players with the most positive memories of the Old Course. Matthew won a couple of amateur girl trophies at the home of golf.
Lewis, meanwhile, played St. Andrews for her last event as an amateur. She was on the Curtis Cup team in 2008 and won all five of her matches.
"I played really good that week, and it was so much fun," Lewis said. "Our team rooms were right behind the first tee box, right in the clubhouse. They kind of let us roam the place. They showed us all around. It was so cool. I had a local caddie that week and I told him, 'I want to know all the stories.' So he told me all the stories. I love the history of this place."