With Paula Creamer's immediate and impressive success on the LPGA Tour after turning pro as an 18-year-old in 2004, it was assumed the 10-time tour winner and 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion would be a mainstay on U.S. Solheim Cup teams for years to come. Creamer has played on the last five American teams, compiling an impressive 12-6-5 record and relied on as an emotional spark for her teammates. Yet without a strong showing at this week's tour stop in Vancouver, Creamer could find herself watching next month's competition from home rather than playing for captain Juli Inkster's squad in Germany.
After the end of play Sunday at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open, 10 automatic qualifiers for the U.S. team will be finalized. This includes the top eight players off the Solheim Cup points list and the next two highest ranked Americans on the Rolex Rankings.
Creamer currently is 11th on the points list and is 37th on the Rolex Ranking. With a T-8 finish in last week's Cambia Portland Classic, LPGA rookie Alison Lee jumped ahead of Creamer to No. 34 in the world, so if the qualifying ended today, Lee would grab the second Rolex Rankings spot.
"Of course it's on my mind. It's been on my mind all year the moment I heard that Juli was the captain," Creamer said earlier this week. "I've wanted to be on that team and make that team. [But] it doesn't mean that I'm going to step away from my routine. I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself and just go out and play some golf."
If Creamer fails to qualify automatically on Sunday, she still could join the team as one of Inkster's two captain's picks, which will be announced Monday night at 7 p.m. on Golf Channel. The problem is Creamer's 2015 resume isn't all that stellar. Her best finish of the season is a T-5 at Kingsmill, one of only three top-10 finishes in 18 starts. She has also missed the cut in her last two starts. Additionally, there are a handful of other bubble players -- Jessica Korda, Christina Kim, Mo Martin and Brittany Lang among them -- who also warrant Inkster's consideration.
"It's going to be hard. There's a lot of girls playing well right now, and I only have two picks," Inkster said. "I'm not looking forward to it. I'm already stressing about it. I've got to go with my gut and go with who I think is going to fit in best with the team and what we need in the team. It's never fun to disappoint anybody, so it's going to be a tough week for me."
The Creamer-Inkster dynamic creates an intriguing sub plot to the story. Both are Northern California natives, Creamer having looked up to Inkster during her junior days as an inspiration for wanted to become a professional golfer. The question is whether their close relationship helps or hurts Creamer's candidacy.