With her win at the US Women’s Open, the focus is on Inbee Park (South Korea). Can she actually win the RICOH British Women’s Open and become the first golf pro, male or female, to win 4 major tournaments in a single season? Can the Serene Goddess glide to victory at St. Andrews, the home of golf and unquestionably one of the most challenging playing fields in the sport? Or, as some are predicting, will Catriona Matthew (Scotland) take the crown jewel and stop Park’s march into golf’s history books?
The questions and the speculations seem endless as time ticks forward toward August 1. But there’s more LPGA golf to be played before Inbee Park makes her bid for the win that will raise her above Tiger Woods and Babe Zaharias in the record book.
Park will be the odds-on favorite at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic next week at the Grey Silo Golf Course in Waterlook, Ontario. But she’ll have competition at this relatively new tournament on the LPGA Tour.
Brittany Lang (USA) is the defending Manulife Classic champ. The 2012 tournament was Lang’s first LPGA victory and she’s not going to give the win away easily. Lang has been building her pro golf resume for several years. She’s played twice on the USA Team for the Solheim Cup, finished 7th at the 2013 US Women’s Open, and made 24 cuts out of 25 tournament entries during the 2012 season. She’ll play at St. Andrews this year, and she’s played against Park enough times that she knows Park’s game. She’s ready to defend her title at the Manulife.
Lang isn’t the only one who’ll have her sights on a win next week. Stacy Lewis (USA) will also play the Manulife Classic, and Lewis is hungry for a win. The #2 Rolex ranked Lewis has carded 2 tournament victories and 9 top-10 finishes this year but she’s been in a slump for the last 8 weeks. Lewis needs to get her putter fired up again before she tees off at St. Andrews and she also needs to know that she can beat Park and win a tournament. The Manulife could give her an opportunity to do all three.
The Grey Silo Golf Course is a links style course and will provide some opportunities for Lang, Lewis, and Park to test out their games in a setting some are viewing as a dress rehearsal for St. Andrews. But Lang, Lewis, and Park are not playing alone. This is golf, an unpredictable, fickle, capricious sport and 130 women will tee off at the Manulife Classic on Thursday. All are contenders. The Golf Channel will provide coverage for the 72-hole event. Take your seats and place your bets.