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Creamer, Pressel one back at Dow Great Lakes, looking to impress Inkster

Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel are trying to impress U.S. Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster in this week's Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.

Look who’s trying to make Juli Inkster’s job tougher as U.S. Solheim Cup captain?

Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel showed what has made them so successful in the international team event during Wednesday’s first round of the inaugural Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland, Mich.

They teamed to shoot 4-under-par 66 in alternate shot, getting in early contention, one shot behind the Canadian duo of Brooke Henderson and Alena Sharp.

“They’re good, and really good at alternate shot,” Inkster said at week’s start. “It’s like they know how to dance together.”

Creamer and Pressel are on the outer fringe of the points race to make the U.S. Solheim Cup team that will head to Scotland in two months, but this week offers a chance to make a big impression on Inkster, who will fill out her roster with two captain’s picks. Creamer has played in every Solheim Cup since she joined the LPGA in 2005. She’s 17-9-5 in Solheim play, with her 19.5 points trailing only Cristie Kerr (21) for most in the American team history.

Pressel is 10-7-2 in six Solheim Cups.

They’re 2-2-1 as Solheim partners.

“Obviously, every week out here we are trying to prove ourselves, to be able to get somewhere with a captain’s pick,” Creamer said. “When that time comes, it’s Juli’s decision. We are just out here trying to play good golf and get a win for each other. It doesn’t matter what happens in a month or so.”

Pressel is 27th on the U.S. Solheim Cup points list with just four qualifying events left. There are no Solheim points available this week. Creamer is 33rd on the points list. The top eight make it when qualifying ends at the conclusion of the CP Women’s Open (Aug. 25).

Full-field scores from the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational

Experience in team play is paying off early for the American tandem.

“It's obviously a huge advantage, I would think,” Creamer said. “We're best of friends. We’ve played a lot of team events together. It’s nothing new for us to be able to come out here . . .  I definitely think we have kind of the upper hand with the experience.”

Pressel and Creamer made three birdies, an eagle and a bogey in a format that can be difficult to post a low score.

“There are a lot of players out here that have never played team events, never played alternate shot, possibly, or played very little,” Pressel said. “We've both had a tremendous amount of experience with it, but experience only gets you so far . . .  At the end of the day, got to post a score, doesn't matter how you got it done.”

Though the Olympics offers an individual stroke-play competition, Henderson and Sharp were Canadian teammates in Rio de Janeiro three years ago.

They’ll be back playing their own balls in Thursday’s better-ball competition.

“I'm actually a lot more excited for best ball, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow,” Henderson said.

The Korda sisters, Jessica and Nelly, were also factors early, posting a 68. They played alongside the Jutanugarn sisters, Ariya and Moriya, who shot 70.

“You can definitely see that we're all really comfortable with each other,” Nelly said. “I think it was fun. I think they had fun, and it was a cool group.”

Suzann Pettersen, playing an LPGA event for the first time in 20 months after taking time away to become a mom for the first time, teamed with European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew to shoot 73. Stacy Lewis and Gerina Piller also got off to a sluggish start with a 72. Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson, the dynamic duo of American team golf, opened with a 71.