SAN MARTIN, Calif. – There are several competitors in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle locked into the game within the game: Qualifying for golf’s return to the Olympics.   The 60-player Olympic field will be finalized July 11 and among those chasing a spot in Rio is Gerina Piller of the United States. One of the heroes of the 2015 U.S. Solheim Cup triumph, Piller is No. 16 in the Rolex Rankings. With No. 4 Lexi Thompson and No. 8 Stacy Lewis virtual locks, Piller needs to break into the top 15 to qualify.   “I think it would be a really big deal for me, personally,” Piller said before Thursday’s start. “I love my country. I love America. And nothing gives me more honor than to put on the stars and stripes. And to have that honor, to represent your country at an event like that, would be pretty awesome.”   The player right in front of Piller, No. 15 Anna Nordqvist, will make the team for Sweden even if she falls out of the top 15 but No. 14, Bo-mee Lee of South Korea, needs to earn more rankings points as well. Player within the top 15 can play for their country with a maximum of four per nation. Outside the top 15, only two can go per nation.   South Korea has seven players in the top 15: Inbee Park (No. 3), Sei Young Kim (5), In Gee Chun (6), Amy Yang (9), Ha Na Jang (10), So Yeon Ryu (11) and Lee (14).   If Park, who pulled out of this week’s Women’s Open because of a thumb injury that has been nagging her all year, withdraws from the Olympics that would put Kim, Chun, Yang and Jang on the team with Ryu and Lee fighting to seal a spot. And the Olympics is such a big deal in Korea that no one is expected to back out.   “It is such a huge honor to be an Olympian,” Chun said this week at CordeValle. “I’m aware that there are a lot of concerns regarding health issues and security issues, but to be able to play at the Olympics is the biggest achievement and honor. So if I get a chance to play at the Olympics, I’ll do my best.”   Another interesting situation involves Karrie Webb, the 41-year-old Hall of Famer from Australia who has seven major championships—including five different majors—among her 41 career LPGA victories. She’s No. 59 in the rankings. Countrywoman Minjee Lee (No. 13) is a lock with fellow Aussie Su-Hyun Oh at No. 39. Webb would like nothing more than to cap her career by walking into the Olympic opening ceremony in the parade of nations. Right now, that appears to be a long shot.


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