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There’s loads of historical past to attract on forward of the 76th version of the U.S. Women’s Open this week at The Olympic Club close to San Francisco, but it surely’s been simply 5 months and 20 days because the girls final contested the key championship, gained by South Korea’s A Lim Kim.
However, that quick span of time did nothing to squelch the key swirl of questions and storylines going into the second girls’s main of the yr. Can Kim, the longshot who shocked the sphere in her event debut with a one-shot victory at Champions Golf Club in Houston, pull off the repeat? Will Patty Tavatanakit, already a serious winner this yr, be capable of capitalize on her ANA Inspiration success? Can two-time champion, seven-time main winner and betting favourite Inbee Park add one other jewel in her “Queen Bee” crown? And how will Michelle Wie West carry out in her main return?
Kim gave a stunning evaluation of her championship win in December, telling media on Tuesday: “Well, frankly, let me be honest with you. I think I was lucky.”
For a fast refresher, let’s keep in mind Kim started the ultimate spherical in Houston tied for ninth, 5 strokes again of 54-hole chief Hinako Shibuno of Japan and nonetheless a +6600 longshot with one spherical to play. She birdied her closing three holes to card a 67 to beat Amy Olson and Jin Young Ko by one in a Monday end. The 2021 LPGA season has been a blended bag for the 25-year-old since: She’s made simply two cuts in 5 begins however did put up a T-10 end on the Lotte Championship in April.
Should Kim win once more, she would turn into the eighth participant to efficiently defend her championship title and the primary since Karrie Webb in 2001.
Fellow South Korean Park completed T-6 that week for her ninth top-10 end at a U.S. Women’s Open. This week marks the 32-year-old’s fifteenth begin within the championship and he or she’s made 12 cuts with wins in 2008 and 2013. She enters the week as a betting favorite in line with oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook, listed at +1100 simply forward of world No. 1 Jin Young Ko.
“I think it’s just my game really suits the tough golf courses, and probably I’m pretty calm on the golf course, too,” stated the present world No. 2, who gained the Kia Classic earlier this yr for her twenty first LPGA title. Park additionally has 5 top-10s in her final six begins together with a T-7 end on the yr’s first main. “Whatever happens on the golf course, I kind of manage myself to stay calm no matter what happens. This golf course definitely needs some patience.”
Odds to win U.S. Women’s Open (through PointsBet)
+1100: Inbee Park
+1300: Jin Young Ko
+1400: Lydia Ko, Sei Young Kim
+1500: So Yeon Ryu
+1600: Nelly Korda, Ariya Jutanugarn, Hyo Joo Kim
+1800: Jessica Korda
+2000: Danielle Kang
+2200: Brooke Henderson, Patty Tavatanakit
Patience will likely be key at Olympic Club, which has hosted 11 earlier USGA championships together with 5 U.S. Opens (1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012) and three U.S. Amateurs (1958, 1981, 2007), however this marks the primary time it has welcomed a girls’s USGA championship. The Lake Course will likely be set at 6,457 yards, par 71 and options no water hazards – regardless of its title – and there is just one fairway bunker in play off the tee, which might be discovered on the sixth gap. The greens are creeping bentgrass, the tees and fairways are Poa annua, and the tough is perennial ryegrass – and anticipate it to be thick.
“We did do a fair amount of extra seeding of ryegrass in various rough areas, especially around the greens, and then any areas just outside of the fairways that we felt we wanted to supplement,” stated Troy Flanagan, director of golf course upkeep “The rough is a really important part of the U.S. Open. You get in the rough, you pay a penalty.”
“The course is going to play tough,” added Park. “It’s going to be windy, cold, and we’re going to have to hit some fairways on this golf course. Otherwise, you don’t have much shot.”
Recent U.S. Women’s Open winners
2020: A Lim Kim
2019: Jong-Eun Lee6
2018: Ariya Jutanugarn
2017: S.H. Park
2016: Brittany Lang
Avoiding the thick stuff is prime of thoughts for 21-year-old Tavatanakit, who stated she’s “living the dream” following her first main win in April as she makes her fifth U.S. Women’s Open begin. “It’s playing tough,” she stated. “You’ve got to execute a lot of shots, and just be prepared it’s going to be tough out there mentally and physically with the roughs and the weather. It’s going to be challenging. I’m up for it. …
“I’ve played a lot of tough ones (golf courses), and this is something different. You’ve obviously got to be sharp, think through your shots, and try to execute no matter which shot you’re picking to hit.”
World No. 1 and final yr’s runner-up Ko agrees: “Yeah, I think fairways are so narrow on this course, so first the important thing is keep (the ball in) the fairway, and greens are small, too, so if you hit drivers well and irons well, I think playing good. But if not, it’s going to be tough.”
The 25-year-old Ko, a seven-time LPGA winner, arrives in San Francisco having made the reduce in all 4 earlier U.S. Women’s Open appearances and in six begins this season, she’s missed only one reduce and posted 4 finishes inside the highest seven.
The purse for the U.S. Women’s Open is $5.5 million, the most important in girls’s golf, with the champion receiving $1 million (offered she is an expert).
Wie West proper at dwelling at Olympic
Michelle Wie West, the 2014 champion, will revel within the luxurious of sleeping in her personal mattress this week whereas competing at Olympic Club. The 31-year-old new mom and Solheim Cup assistant captain will make her first begin in a U.S. Women’s Open since 2018 as a +50000 longshot.
“It feels amazing,” stated Wie West relating to her return to main motion (she missed the reduce in three LPGA begins this season). “USGA did it big this week. The whole setup with our locker room, player hospitality, being here at Olympic Club, it’s such a big week for the ladies this week. It’s truly an honor to be back, especially being a USGA champion. It always has a really special feel to it.”
But Wie West, who has battled critical wrist accidents, admits she thinks twice earlier than attacking any photographs out of the deep tough.
“I knew when I signed up to come out and play again, especially at the U.S. Open, … I wasn’t expecting to come out and there to be no rough,” she stated Tuesday. “Does it worry me? Yes. But the last couple of days I hit a lot of shots out of the rough, and I’m feeling pretty confident about it. It will always be what it is. I’m playing definitely on borrowed time, and I’m grateful for every second of it.”
Sister act(s) arrives to San Francisco
For the seventh consecutive yr, and eighth time total, sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, are each within the subject, as are sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda, who will each tee it up for the seventh time at a U.S. Women’s Open. Also of notice, the Korda sisters will play collectively for the primary two rounds in a serious for the primary time.
“It will be easier for my parents,” stated Nelly Korda, 22, already a winner this yr on the Gainbridge LPGA. “The first thing my dad was like, ‘Yes, I just get to walk 18 holes.’ It will be nice. We do feed off each other, but at the end of the day like if I’m struggling, she’s right there. I can lean on her and vice versa.”
Older sister Jessica, 28, additionally a winner already this season on the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, echoed Nelly’s sentiments and shed some gentle on some variations between the 2: “It’s going to be really fun, a lot of thinking. I’m probably going to have a lot of naps and a lot of 10-hour sleeps. … Nelly and I are just, you know, it is what it is. We like playing together, so there’s no issue.
“I’m more of an extrovert. She’s maybe more of an introvert until she gets to know you. In terms of golf, we don’t talk about golf once we leave the golf course. We talk about shopping, food, shows — honestly, just like you would talk to your friend about.”
Heck of an opportunity: Amateurs set to tackle Olympic
The final time an beginner gained the U.S. Women’s Open was 1967 when France’s Catherine Lacoste, daughter of hall-of-fame tennis participant Rene Lacoste and 1927 British Ladies Amateur champion Simone Thion de la Chaume, turned the primary and solely beginner to win the championship.
But 19-year-old Rachel Heck is up for the problem. The Stanford Cardinal participant, who lives Memphis, Tenn., not too long ago gained the person title within the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club for her fifth consecutive particular person victory this season, and sixth complete. Her victories this previous season embrace the NCAA Stanford Regional, the Pac-12 Championships and the U.S. Open Collegiate Invitational… which was held at The Olympic Club. Heck is making her second U.S. Women’s Open begin after tying for thirty third in 2017 and is listed at +10000 to observe in Lacoste’s footsteps.
Also price maintaining a tally of are 17-year-old Tsubasa Kajitani (+50000) of Japan, who will make her first U.S. Women’s Open begin after edging Wake Forest All-American Emilia Migliaccio in a sudden-death playoff to say the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and California native Rose Zhang, 17 and at the moment No. 1 within the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, who defeated defending champion Gabriela Ruffels to win the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur final August.
Thirty amateurs are within the subject this week, with the youngest participant being 14-year-old Chloe Kovelesky (born Jan. 25, 2007). Kovelesky is the youngest U.S. Women’s Open competitor since Lucy Li performed within the 2014 event at age 11.
Sponsor exemptions Kerr, Creamer deliver expertise
Thanks to particular exemptions from the USGA, 2010 champion Paula Creamer (+50000) and 2007 champion Cristie Kerr (+30000) will compete this week, seeking to make extra historical past. Prior to this yr’s exemptions, the final participant to obtain a particular exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open was two-time champion Karrie Webb in 2018 at Shoal Creek in Alabama. The two girls will play the primary two rounds collectively in a embellished group that additionally consists of one other former winner, Wie West.
Creamer, 34 and competing in her 18th U.S. Women’s Open, didn’t play in Houston final yr, missed the reduce the three earlier years and hasn’t had a top-15 end since 2014, the yr of the latest of her 10 LPGA victories. Her 10-year exemption for profitable in 2010 ended final yr. She missed the reduce in her solely LPGA begin on the Pure Silk Championship two weeks in the past, however is eager to compete following a gradual comeback from a season-ending wrist surgical procedure in 2017.
“Growing up in Northern California, one of my fondest golf memories is attending the 1998 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club with my father, which truly sparked my love for USGA championships and the complete test they present to the players,” stated Creamer, who additionally has 5 top-10 and 11 top-20 finishes over her 17 profession U.S. Women’s Open appearances.
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The 43-year-old Kerr, who gained the 2007 championship at Pine Needles, will likely be making her twenty fourth consecutive begin within the U.S. Women’s Open. A 20-time winner on the LPGA Tour, she has completed within the prime 10 eight instances, most not too long ago within the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle in San Martin, Calif.
“Winning the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles was a career- and life-changing moment,” stated Kerr, who grew up in Miami, Fla. “I’m grateful to everyone at the USGA for this special exemption and the opportunity to continue to play in what I consider our sport’s greatest championship. I can’t wait.”
How to look at:
You can watch the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open on Golf Channel and NBC. Golf Channel will air the primary two rounds on Thursday and Friday (7-11 p.m. ET), in addition to late protection of Saturday’s third spherical (5-10 p.m. ET). NBC will air three hours of protection on Saturday afternoon (2-5 p.m. ET) and the ultimate 4 hours of protection on Sunday (3-7 p.m. ET). Additionally, on-line streaming is out there through uswomensopen.org and Peacock. Peacock will present two hours of unique early-round protection on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In addition, followers will be capable of watch featured group protection all 4 rounds on uswomensopen.org and Peacock.
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