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Decision to play or not before U.S. Women’s Open complicated by LPGA Match Play

SAN FRANCISCO – When Shanshan Feng conceded her comfort match to Ariya Jutanugarn on Sunday on the Bank of Hope Match Play, so as to get some relaxation before the U.S. Women’s Open, it begged the query about how gamers put together for the most important occasions of the yr.

“If I play 18 more, I don’t know how I will do. I might fall over on the course. I don’t think I should push myself that bad,” Feng, who performed 41 holes the day before to advance to the semifinals, mentioned after conceding her match.

The follow of skipping the event the week prior to a serious championship has been commonplace on the PGA Tour. And it avoids conditions just like the one Feng discovered herself in. Jack Nicklaus famously wouldn’t compete the week prior to a serious championship and as a substitute would head to the key website early so as to scout the course. On the opposite hand, Inbee Park, a seven-time main champion, performed final week’s occasion in Las Vegas the place she was defeated within the Round of 16.

“I always kind of like to play something before the major tournament to just kind of get myself ready,” Park mentioned Tuesday. “Sometimes I take a week off. Sometimes I don’t. Most likely, I would like to play one before.”

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On the LPGA Tour, the power for gamers to cherry choose their schedule hasn’t at all times been a luxurious. For years, tour alternatives had been restricted and gamers relished each likelihood they’d to compete. But because the Tour continues to add extra occasions, and purses proceed to enhance, extra gamers can strategize a schedule that enables them to peak for the yr’s greatest occasions.

Feng performed 112 holes of golf in 4 and a half days. She mentioned she’s by no means performed a lot and admittedly was drained. She felt her most suitable choice, having failed to advance to the finals, was to lower her losses and try to set herself up for achievement on the season’s second main. Feng discovered the remaining effectively well worth the sacrifice of $23,308.41, which was the quantity she gave up by settling for fourth place as a substitute of vying for third place in Las Vegas.

“Next week is the U.S. Open,” Feng mentioned on Sunday. “It’s a very hilly and challenging course, so, yeah, I just want to be well-rested and protect myself.”

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Kay Cockerill, who’s a member at The Olympic Club, was on the decision for Golf Channel on the LPGA Match Play. Ahead of the occasion, Cockerill mentioned in an interview on “The Amy and Adam Show” podcast that whereas she loves the match-play format, she believed gamers would want to make some main changes before heading to Northern California.

“Physically speaking, it’s not probably the best preparation,” Cockerill mentioned on the podcast. “You’ve got Vegas, which is going to be 90 degrees. You’ve got altitude, warm air, thin air. They’re going to be hitting it two clubs further than they normally do. Then, they’re going to come down to sea level, with overcast [skies]. It’s going to be in the 50s, low-60s, and you hit it one club less than you normally do.”

As a member at The Olympic Club, Cockerill shepherded a number of gamers across the course who needed to get conversant in the venue, together with Sei Young Kim, Lydia Ko, In Gee Chun and Austin Ernst. Ko visited the venue a number of occasions, which Cockerill says provides her a serious benefit.

Ko, together with top-ranked Americans Nelly Korda, Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson, had been among the many gamers who selected not to play in Las Vegas.

Jessica and Nelly Korda paired for U.S. Women’s Open

Nelly Korda’s determination got here after considerate consideration along with her group about how far she may advance. Nelly knew that the potential of having to play 36 holes in a single day, in excessive temperatures, wasn’t one thing she needed to do the week before a serious championship.

“It’s such a cool event and I wish I could have played it,” Nelly mentioned Tuesday, “but I was just focusing on being prepared for this week.”

Instead, Nelly spent a number of days stress-free after which went to work with each her coach and coach to guarantee her physique was feeling 100% before competing this week. Her sister, Jessica, spent the week with their mother and father and watched the Match Play from house.

“Too much golf,” Jessica mentioned with fun when requested why she selected not to play in Las Vegas. “Once I saw Sophia [Popov’s] feet kind of bleeding, I knew I made the right choice.”

Popov superior to the ultimate match with eventual champion Ally Ewing. Afterwards she posted on Twitter a photograph of her sock soaked in blood.

The U.S. Women’s Open is the third occasion in a stretch of 12 consecutive tournaments, 13 if gamers qualify for the Summer Olympic Games. It’s the busiest a part of the LPGA Tour season, which incorporates three of the season’s 5 main championships. It’s a time when gamers will want to consider priorities to maximize their vitality and effectivity so as to peak for the season’s greatest occasions. And meaning skipping tournaments.

“If it would have landed anywhere else in the schedule, I think that would have been an amazing event,” Jessica mentioned in regards to the Match Play. “I loved watching it.”

The new match-play occasion is probably going probably the most thrilling addition to the LPGA schedule, however its placement on the schedule in the course of the week prior to one of many greatest occasions of the yr, gave many top-ranked gamers no alternative however to skip the occasion in hopes of attaining peak efficiency on the U.S. Women’s Open.

“All you want to do is be prepared going into the U.S. Open,” Nelly mentioned.

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