Who’s hot and who’s not going in to the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Cording and O-I? The Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio is more than ready to host the 18th playing of this 72-hole tourney. The banner headline on the tournament website has been announcing THE GIRLS ARE BACK IN TOWN! for weeks. And why is this? The Marathon Classic is the biggest sporting event in the area, widely supported by the regional community at both the corporate and fan levels. The Marathon Classic attracts 70,000 spectators and has donated millions of dollars to local children’s charities over the last 2 decades.
So who’s hot going in to the Marathon Classic?
You will get what your heart desires.
So Yeon Ryu’s Fortune Cookie
So Yeon Ruy (South Korea), the defending champ, would like to be hot. Ruy’s holding at #5 in the Rolex Rankings and she’s collected 6 top-10 finishes this year, two of them in the last 30 days. Ruy finished 2nd at the WalMart NW Arkansas Championship and 3rd at the US Women’s Open. She has an average drive, about 250 yards, and she stays in the short grass so we can expect steady, predictable play off the tee and down the fairway. Ruy’s strength shows up in her short game. She’s ranked among the top-10 in the LPGA for making greens in regulation and in making birdies. Ryu’s flat stick is hot and there’s no doubt she’s hungry for a win. Ryu could take the win if she can maintain her putter power.
Inbee Park (South Korea) will also be teeing off at the Marathon Class, and while Park may have been disappointed in her performance last week at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, she sagely reminded golf fans that “I’m just human and just a golfer. I have limits.” Still, Park’s final shot at the Manulife, a spectacular, heart-stopping eagle putt on the 18th hole, knowing that she was finishing below the top-10, screams out the level of confidence golf’s Serene Goddess brings to her game. She’s now lost a tournament which she’s accepted with a panache that seems to escape Tiger and Rory. The pressure to break the record in consecutive number of wins is vented. Park can get back to focusing on her shots, and that’s the magic of her strength. Park finished the Manulife very hot and could easily take the Marathon Classic.
I’m also keeping a close eye on Angela Stanford (USA). Like Ryu, Stanford is hungry for a win and, like Ryu, she’s come close twice, finishing 2nd at the Manulife Financial and in a tie for 4th at the US Women’s Open, just behind Ryu. Stanford and Ryu are equals off the tee. Ryu’s a bit stronger hitting the greens in regulation, but Stanford, ranked at #16 by Rolex, has a slightly stronger putting record. I’m looking forward to some intense competition between Stanford and Ryu.
Stacy Lewis (USA), is also hungry for a win and this might be the place where the #2 player in the Rolex Rankings can get her mojo back. Lewis needs to stop worrying about Inbee Park and focus on playing her own game, which at its best is superb. She proved to herself last week at the Manulife that she can finish ahead of Park. The next step in conquering the mental side of the game is to win the Marathon. Then she can go forward to the RICOH British Women’s Open with the wind at her back. Technically, she’s certainly capable. It now depends on her focus.
Then there’s Lydia Ko (New Zealand), the teenage amateur who is always on my radar when she’s teeing off. Ko has out-performed everyone in contention at the Marathon, and she could do it again. Watch her!
This is the last LPGA event before the British Women’s Open, August 1-4 at St. Andrews for 142 players to show what they have in their bags. As Inbee Park as observed, “golf is a sport where you could win this week and miss the cut next week.” Anticipating who will bring the best game to the Marathon is, in the end, an exercise in futility.
The Golf Channel will provide live coverage of the Marathon Thursday through Sunday, 2-4pm, EST and I’ll provide daily wrap-ups. Take your seats and place your bets!