Sophie Gustafson moved into the top five on The European Solheim Cup standings with her second place at the Evian Masters

(LANCASHIRE, England – 29th July 2009) — The Ricoh Women’s British Open, which starts on Thursday at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, is the final event before The 2009 European and US Solheim Cup Teams are announced at a joint press conference at 7pm on Sunday 2nd August.

Double points are up for grabs to US and European players finishing inside the top 20 places this week in the final major championship of the season.

High finishes could have a significant impact for both teams, with a victory worth 60 Cup points to a European Ladies European Tour member. A victory would be worth 120 points to a US-born LPGA Tour player.

The European Captain Alison Nicholas and US Captain Beth Daniel will both be on site at Royal Lytham. They will make their wildcard selections on Sunday – three for Nicholas and two for Daniel – to complete their 12-player teams, who will head to Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois for the matches from 21-23 August.

The current top nine Europeans on the team following the Evian Masters includes Gwladys Nocera, Tania Elosegui, Diana Luna, Laura Davies and Sophie Gustafson from The Solheim Cup points standings, plus Suzann Pettersen, Helen Alfredsson, Maria Hjorth and Catriona Matthew as the next best four players from the Rolex World Rankings.

Players such as the recent major champion Anna Nordqvist, (who won the 2009 McDonald’s LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola), Karen Stupples (the 2004 Women’s British Open winner), Giulia Sergas and Janice Moodie would need a captain’s pick to be eligible since they haven’t played in the six Ladies European Tour events required over the two year qualification period, which started with the 2007 De Vere Ladies Scottish Open. Sandra Gal is not eligible as she is not a Ladies European Tour member.

Defending champion Jiyai Shin

However, with a victory this week, 12 different players have an opportunity to move into the top five who will earn automatic spots on The 2009 European Solheim Cup Team via the points’ table: Anne-Lise Caudal, Nordqvist, Johanna Westerberg, Maria Hjorth, Paula Marti, Iben Tinning, Marianne Skarpnord, Becky Brewerton, Helen Alfredsson, Melissa Reid, Martina Eberl and Suzann Pettersen.

A total of eight players have the opportunity to move into the top five with a runner-up finish worth 45 points: Pettersen, Eberl, Reid, Alfredsson, Brewerton, Skarpnord, Tinning and Marti.

Players in the top 10 following the RICOH Women’s British Open will earn automatic spots on the 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Team. The current top 10 comprises Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, Nicole Castrale, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel, Kristy McPherson, Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome and Natalie Gulbis. With a victory, players within reach include Laura Diaz, Stacy Prammanasudh, Pat Hurst, Juli Inkster and Jane Park.

The Solheim Cup is the most prestigious international team event in women’s professional golf. It is a biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition featuring the best U.S.-born players from the LPGA and the best European-born players from the LET. The U.S. Team leads the competition, 7-3, and has never lost on home soil.

Gearing up for the final major championship of the 2009 season, the Asian and Australasian contingent are likely to feature prominently. South Korean Jiyai Shin will defend her major championship title this week, having finished at 18-under-par 270 for a three-stroke victory over Yani Tseng at Sunningdale Golf Club last year.

Shin since claimed the 2008 Mizuno Classic and ADT Championship, where she took home $1 million.

In addition to the defending champion, who is ranked fourth in the world, the field will feature all of the top-20 players, and 47 of the top-50 players, from the Rolex World Rankings.

This week’s top-12 is comprised of top-ranked Lorena Ochoa, Tseng (second), Kerr (third), Shin (fourth), Creamer (fifth), Pettersen (sixth), Stanford (seventh), In-Kyung Kim (eighth), Karrie Webb (ninth) and Alfredsson (10th), recent US Women’s Open champion Eun-Hee Ji (11th) and Song-Hee Kim (12th).

Ai Miyazato of Japan arrives in Lytham ranked 13th in the world having jumped 14 places following her victory at the Evian Masters on Sunday.