Originally created 09/22/00

Safeway crucial for Solheim Cup team



PORTLAND, Ore. -- Players on the fringe of making the U.S. Solheim Cup team have been put on notice. Pat Bradley will be watching as she plays in the Safeway Championship.

It's the final event for players hoping to earn enough points to qualify for the team, which is to the LPGA what the Ryder Cup is for the men.

The top 10 in the points standings automatically qualify, but Bradley, the team captain, will select the final two on Sunday night.

"I'm playing this week with the thought that if I get paired with a couple players on the bubble, all right, you've got center stage, you've got me for 18 holes, 4' hours. Let's see it," Bradley said.

The 54-hole tournament begins today at the Columbia-Edgewater County Club. Juli Inkster, who entered the LPGA Tour's Hall of Fame last year with her six-stroke victory at Safeway, returns to defend.

Annika Sorenstam, who is on the European Solheim Cup team, is playing. So is Dottie Pepper, who hasn't played since withdrawing from the U.S. Women's Open in July with back problems.

But the tournament will be without the tour's hottest player, Karrie Webb, who has won six tourneys and more than $1.6 million this year. Webb decided to go home to Australia to watch the Olympics.

The Americans and Europeans will compete for the Solheim Cup on Oct. 6-8 in Scotland.

Bradley said she assumes the current top seven players in the Solheim Cup standings are secure: Inkster, Meg Mallon, Rosie Jones, Pepper, Sherri Steinhauer, Pat Hurst and Kelly Robbins.

The players contending for the last spots include Nancy Scranton, Becky Iverson, Cristie Kerr, Kelli Kuehne, Beth Daniel, Betsy King, Tina Barrett and No. 16 Brandie Burton, who must win the tournament to break the top 10.