After a two year absence from the LPGA Tour, Williamsburg, Virginia once again plays host as the Kingsmill Championship (“formerly known” as the Michelob ULTRA) will be held on the River Course at the Kingsmill Resort. As I had previously covered, the last LPGA player to nab a win here (back in 2009) was Cristie Kerr.
The River Course is a Pete Dye design, so you know what that means. The course will play with the players sightlines and, above all else, heads. Dye has a penchant for having a surprise or two within his designs. Greens that may (or may not) be as deep (or narrow) as they appear. Greens that rest offset to a straight fairway. Fairways the aren’t as wide as you think. Tee boxes set in, shall we say, interesting angles to the fairway. This course has those typical Dye traits. It will play as a par-71 at 6,384 yards.
Absent will by Rolex Number 1 Yani Tseng. Many of the top non-US players will also be by-passing the event as the RICOH Women’s British Open is next week. That puts this field a little weaker than we’d normally like to see. Still, the tourney has provided us with some nice pairings for the first two rounds. Here’s three pairings for you to watch.
1. Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, Paula Creamer (#1 tee at 9:05 AM)
Maybe not all are playing their best golf (hard to say that about Lexi since she’s only in her first full year on the LPGA Tour), but three “big name” Americans can always bring folks to a tournament. Wie has struggled most of the season. Her best finish came at the Safeway Classic where she was 8th. That finish came in between a pair of missed cuts.
Speaking of missed cuts, Thompson has failed to make the cut in her last three tournaments. She hasn’t posted a top-5 finish since the Shoprite LPGA Classic in June. And Lexi has only that and a 2nd at Mobile as her only top-10s this season. With high expectations following her 2011 season (when she was once the youngest to ever win an LPGA tournament), the results have not been there.
Creamer has had the most success of this trio, but she has seen her ranking drop to #18. Four top-10s and no MCs (she did withdraw from the HSBC) have made for a steady year, but no wins. Creamer has walked away with a winner’s trophy since 2010 (not including her win at the Wendy’s Three Tour Champs) when she won teheU.S. Women’s Open.
2. Ai Miyazato, Stacy Lewis, Crstie Kerr (#10 tee at 12:40 PM)
All three are in the Rolex top 10 (Miyazato is 5th, Lewis is 2nd, Kerr is 10th). Miyazato and Lewis have both won twice this year. Kerr won at this venue the last time a tournament was hosted there.
Miyazato’s victories have come LPGA LOTTE Championships and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She did miss the cut in Canada at the CN Canadian Women’s Open. Since her last win; however, Miyazato has yet to have a top-10 finish including two MCs.
In between Miyazato’s wins, Lewis nabbed her two wins (Mobile Bay and Shoprite) and has made a dent in Yani Tseng’s “lead” as the Rolex #1. Lewis is the current leader in teh Rolex Player of the Year standings some 26 points ahead of Tseng. A third win this season would close what is viewed as an insurmountable gap even more.
It’s not that Kerr has had a bad season, it’s that she hasn’t had a Cristie Kerr season, She’s only failed to make one cut, but no wins. No wins since 2010 at the LPGA Wegmans as a matter of fact. The other day, I had some thoughts on Kerr as we could be on the verge of seeing a streak come to an end of Kerr does not play well. With the field being stripped of some top players, a Kerr win seems even more likely.
3. Sandra Gal, Juli Inkster, Azahara Munoz (#1 tee at 8:55 AM)
You might be asking why this pairing intrigues me. The answer is a bit lng-winded, but I will pare it down the best I can.
First, I’ve always admired the way Inkster plays. Her tenacity is inspiring. Her competitiveness and drive are traits every player should have. You never know what type of reaction you will get from her.
Second, Gal and Munoz can at any time snag a tourney win. With this week’s field not looking so star-studded (or rank-loaded if such a word exists which I highly doubt), both could find the going not as tough as in other week’s.
Television: Golf Channel
Times: Thursday and Friday – 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM; Saturday – 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM; Sunday – 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM