The U.S. Women’s Open is underway and will the ladies ever have a tough, stern test in front of them. The Open returns to Blackwolf Run Golf Club where when the event was last held there, the winning score was 6-over-par. Your winner on that occasion was Se Ri Pak back in 1998. Blackwolf Run Golf Club consists of two 18-hole courses (River and Meadow Valleys) and a “reconfiguring” will take place. Tabbed as the “Championship Course”, the USGA will utilize holes 10-18 from Meadow Valleys and 1-4 along with 14-18 from the River course. This will create the original Championship Course.
Not only will the ladies be battling a tough course, they will also have to deal with the possibility of triple digit temperatures in Kohler, Wisconsin. Honest. Today’s forecast calls for a high of 97 degrees. In Wisconsin? After the first two rounds, temperatures are expected to dip into the 70′s for the weekend.
Keep in mind that this event is not co-sponsored by the LPGA even though it is considered a major.
Your defending champ is So Yeon Ryu who won last year when the tournament was held in Colorado Springs at The Broadmoor. Ryu won the tournament in a 3-hole playoff against Hee Kyung Seo. Ryu also looks to be the first repeat winner since Karrie Webb pulled the double in 2001.
So who should we be watching this year?
You can’t begin this discussion and not include Yani Tsseng. Tseng sits atop the Rolex Rankings, but she’s never won a U.S. Women’s Open. In fact her best finish is T10 which came in 2010 when the host venue was Oakmont Country Club. Her next best finish was T15 last year. It is the only major Tseng has yet to win. What is scary is that Tseng has held down the rankings top spot for 73 weeks.
Speaking of Oakmont, the winner there, 2010 champ Paula Creamer, who also tied with Tseng last year, seems to be in a good position to claim another major title. She does have the penchant for playing solid on harder courses and this week fills that bill. Hard to believe that the 2010 title was the last tournament Creamer won. Creamer also has a good track record at this event. She had notched a top ten three straight times until last year’s T15.
Don’t overlook Rolex #2 Stacy Lewis either. Since Lewis collected her first major win at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco, she can claim three top tens in the last five majors that have been contested. This year alone, Lewis scored a T4 at the Kraft Nabisco as she defended her 2011 win and a T2 at the LPGA. She finished T6 at last year’s Women’s Open. Lewis also owns a pair of victories this year (Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and ShopRite LPGA Classic) and has been playing the most consistent golf of any player on the LPGA tour.
Webb? I never discount her in majors and she will always be a dark horse pick for me because she is battled tested and, to me, one of the more mentally tough players. Sure, the ranking may not be what you think or hope (22nd), but she has had a solid 2012 campaign. No wins, but her finish in the season’s first two majors are legit: T15 at the Kraft Nabisco and T6 at the Wegmans LPGA. This year, Webb also owns a pair non-major of top tens.
Has 2012 been a whirlwind year for Shanshan Feng or what? After claiming her first major at the Wegmans, she has a pair of top 20′s including a T7 at the Manulife LPGA Classic heading into this week. For all of 2012, Feng owns five top tens including that major win. She began 2012 on a roll securing three consecutive top fives (Honda LPGA – T5, HSBC Women’s Champ – T2, Kia Classic – T3).
On a roll would also describe Ai Miyazato. Capturing her second win of the season at last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Miyazato also scored a win earlier in 2012 at the LPGA Lotte Championship. Toss in, oh, five more top tens, and you see why Miyazato has climbed to #3 in the Rolex Rankings.
There are others to consider and we have seen that relative “unknowns” can claim a tournament at any time including the majors. I have provided six ladies. Who’s your pick? And after you vote, keep reading for details on the coverage…
To watch the first two rounds, you have the ESPN family in which you can enjoy the coverage. ESPN2, ESPN3 and WatchESPN will be your outlets. If you have ESPN Mobile TV, there will be simulcasting the coverage. The trio will have four hours of coverage each today and tomorrow from 4PM to 8 PM. Terry Gannon will anchor their coverage with World Golf Hall of Fame member Judy Rankin providing analysis. And you can’t have a major without major winners like Curtis Strange and Andy North on the coverage either. The NBC trio of Roger Maltbie, Kay Cockerill and Jane Crafter will also contribute to the broadcast.
On Saturday and Sunday, NBC will pick up the event. Hours for the telecast for these two days are set for 3PM to 6 PM.