Lydia Ko will most certainly be in the center of the spotlight going into the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this week. Ko’s the defending champion and has the distinction of coming in with back-to-back wins in 2012 and 2013 as an amateur that set a string of records: youngest player to win an LPGA Tour event, first amateur to win two LPGA Tour events, and first amateur to successfully defend her title. Can she do it again? Given the way she’s been playing this year, I certainly wouldn’t bet against her. But she’s facing some serious competition.
Tourney & Venue Information
Managed by Golf Canada, since its founding in 1973 the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open has functioned as Canada’s national championship. The 72-hole stroke play event with a $2.25 million purse will be played by a starting field of 156 players, cut to the lowest 70 scores (including ties) at the conclusion of 36 holes.
This year’s edition of the Canadian Open is hosted by the London Hunt and Country Club, which was formally organized in 1885. A 9-hole golf links was added to the club in 1904 and expanded to 18 holes in 1917 and redesigned by Robert Trent Jones in 1960.
This will be the 4th playing of the Canadian Women’s Open at London Hunt and Country Club, which has also hosted the Canadian Men’s Amateur (2010), the Canadian Professional Golfers Association (1985) and the Canadian Open Championship (1970).
Lydia Ko’s Challengers
Inbee Park played golf like a woman on fire at the Tour’s 4th Major last week, the Wegman’s LPGA Championship and with her victory, the second of the season, swapped places with Ko in the world rankings. Expect Park, now 2nd in the rankings, to give now 3rd ranked Ko a tough challenge at the Canadian Open. Park has her eye on the top spot in the rankings that she lost to Stacy Lewis earlier this year.
Stacy Lewis, who languished along the fairways during the LPGA Championship and never quite seemed to kick into gear, may be less of a threat to Ko than Brittany Lincicome, who played a powerful, brilliant game until she was overcome by her own nervousness while she waited for Suzann Pettersen to take a drop, clean the green, and line up a delicate chip on the 72nd hole. Having lost the Championship to Inbee Park by a single putt on the 73rd hole, there’s no doubt in my mind that Lincicome is going to come into the Canadian Open, which she won in 2011, with both resolve and determination.
I’m also expecting Gerina Piller to come into the Canadian Open with her eye on the top of the board. Piller’s been playing like a champion, she’s powerful off the tee, and I think she’s going to notch her first pro victory this year. Then there’s the added incentive of husband Martin’s win at the Web.com News Sentinel Open last week, which could get him a 2015 PGA Tour card. Gerina promised him a new truck if he won!
The LET’s teen star Charley Hull is playing on a sponsor’s invite and I’m looking forward to seeing how she and Ko measure up against each other. They have very different styles. Hull’s much more like Brittany Lincicome than Lydia Ko in her playing style, a powerful player who’s fearless off the tee and exacting on the putting surface. Hull’s presence in the field will add an exciting dimension for the event.
In addition to these five threats, Ko’s going to have to play her way past 2014 major champions Lexi Thompson and Mo Martin and contend with 2014 multiple-event winners Jessica Korda, Anna Nordqvist and Karrie Webb if she hopes to make it three-in-a-row on Sunday.
Both Golf Channel and Canada’s sport network, TSN, will provide daily coverage of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open.
Thursday, August 21: Golf Channel & TSN, noon-2pm; TSN 3-6pm
Friday, August 22: Golf Channel & TSN, noon-2pm; TSN, 3-6pm
Saturday, August 23: Golf Channel, 3-5pm; TSN, 2-5pm
Sunday, August 24: Golf Channel & TSN, 2-5pm
My colleagues and I at ProGolfNow will also provide ongoing commentary and updates on the Canadian Open. Follow me on Twitter @bethbethel and I’ll notify you when I publish posts on the Canadian Open and other pro golf news as well.