AURORA, Ont. – If Annie Park said she wasn’t thinking about Solheim Cup, that would be a lie. It was, after all, the motivator behind the 7-under par, 65 she fired on Thursday to climb to the top of the leaderboard at the CP Women’s Open.
“Definitely a lot of pressure coming into this week just thinking about Solheim right after this event,” Park said. “I’m pretty persistent with what I want. If I want something I try really hard to get it.”
Thursday, Park took a rollercoaster ride around Magna Golf Club. She recorded seven birdies and an eagle, offset by two bogeys. She was hopeful she’d better her previous low round of 63, which she fired in the final round of the 2018 ShopRite LPGA Classic for her first win on Tour, but settled for 65 after making a bogey at the 17th hole.
"Hopefully maybe tomorrow or this week or someday I can break my own personal record," she said.
Park has spent the last two years trying to qualify for her first Solheim Cup. And while she’s made a valiant effort, with five top 10s and her first victory on Tour, her fate comes down to the final qualifying event for Team USA – this week’s CP Women’s Open. Team USA’s automatic qualifying spots will be finalized upon the completion of play on Sunday and Captain Juli Inkster will name her two captain's picks afterwards.
Park is in a fight for one of two Rolex Rankings qualifying spots, awarded to the two highest ranked Americans who have not already qualified via the Solheim Cup point standings.
Angel Yin sits ahead of Park in the Rolex Rankings at No. 32 and is likely to receive one of the two automatic qualifying spots. Park and Austin Ernst are nearly tied in the rankings and are vying for the last remaining qualifying spot. Ernst at No. 41 in the world holds 2.23 points, barely ahead of Park, ranked No. 42 with 2.22 points. Park would have to rely on one of Juli Inkster’s captain’s picks should she fail to move past Ernst in the standings come Sunday.
“It’s a tough, tough spot for her even just telling some players no. I don’t know if that would be me or not,” Park said about Inkster’s decision. “If I am not the pick, I know that her judgement is for the best for the team. Whether I’m playing or not I root for the team and always USA.”
Following the first round of the CP Women’s Open, Park may not need to rely on a pick. She is in the driver’s seat at the top of the leaderboard with Ernst opening with a round of 6-over par, 78.