Over the last four LPGA events, Lexi Thompson won her first major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Michelle Wie ended a four-year winless drought in her home state of Hawaii to take the LPGA LOTTE Championship, Lydia Ko celebrated her 17th birthday with her first LPGA win as a professional at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Championship, a new domestic tournament, and Stacy Lewis won the North Texas LPGA Shootout, the ninth event of the 2014 season, after finishing inside the top-10 at the previous eight events. So far, no defending champion has prevailed, but that could change this week as Cristie Kerr defends her title at the Kingsmill Championship.
WHO TO WATCH
If feels like just about everybody’s coming in hot except Inbee Park, who’s not in the field, and Suzann Pettersen, who’s playing a cautious game right now and taking care of her back.
Could Stacy Lewis repeat her Texas performance and capture a second runaway win? Could Lydia Ko deliver another near-perfect performance and nudge Lewis off the second spot in the rankings? Could Hall of Famer Karrie Webb bring that steady, unshakable winning game to Williamsburg and walk off the 18th green Sunday with a third win of the season? Could Lexi Thompson, fresh and brimming with the confidence of a major champion, do it again and ease past Webb in the world rankings? Any of these outcomes seems possible, even likely.
What about Rolex Ranked number 50 Meena Lee, who played second fiddle to Lewis at the North Texas LPGA Shootout? Was that performance at Las Colinas just a warm-up? Is Lee getting into position for a win?
Or Jenny Shin, who’s ranked 39th by Rolex. Shin’s been finishing steadily inside the top-20 and she’s made a couple of heroic charges for the top of the board. Has she had enough practice and gotten warmed up enough to close the deal at the Kingsmill?
LET teenager Charley Hull‘s in the field, coming in with a 3rd place finish at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open and playing hard to open opportunities on the big stage of the LPGA. Hull’s a fearless power player, an intriguing counterpoint to Lydia Ko’s more delicate and precise game. Hull and Ko could play the tournament within the tournament!
Rookies Line Vedel and Kim Kaufman are both playing with impressive strength and power. Vedel’s 4th place finish at Swinging Skirts was delivered with graceful aplomb and gritty determination, and the same could be said about Kaufman’s 4th place finish at the North Texas Shootout. Do they have the ability to sustain those games or was it a case of rookie luck?
PK Kongkraphan, Lizette Salas, Gerina Piller, Sandra Gal and Azahara Munoz have all played a winner’s game at some point over the last nine events. One of them could easily put together 4 strong rounds in Williamsburg.
In short, Cristie Kerr has her work cut out for her if she hopes to defend her title. She’s going to need to do some serious talking to her ball. And if the past is a good predictor of the future, there will be yet another new Tour champion come Sunday afternoon.
Golf Channel will provide daily delayed coverage of all four rounds of the Kingsmill Championship: Thursday, May 15 and Friday, May 16, 8:30-10:30pm; Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18, 5-7pm, all times ET. I’ll provide a daily wrap-up/preview as well.