With first round tee time less than 48 hours away the 2015 US Women’s Open field is hard at work. Back-to-back champion (2001 & 2002) Karrie Webb is preping for her 20th appearance and playing practice rounds with a bevy of young Aussie hopefuls. European and US players with one eye on St Leon-Rot are thinking about the doubled Solheim Cup points that could come their way this week, and 24 amateurs are dreaming about becoming a second Catherine LeCoste.
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It’s looking as though the weather is going to cooperate, at least until mid-afternoon Sunday, when the long-range forecast is currently calling for a 50% chance of thunderstorms. But the field will play the early rounds of the Open under party cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid-80s and the humidity hovering around 65%.
First contested in 1946, the US Women’s Open is the longest running tournament on the LPGA schedule. For players and fans alike, it’s American golf’s crown jewel. This year Lancaster Country Club hosts the Open on its its William Flynn-designed track that will play 6,850 yards.
Players will navigate uphill tee shots and doglegs that take full advantage the natural landscape to greens with broad-sweeping contours. Every hole presents a technical challenge that will offer a fine test of skill and course management.
Across the board, the odds-makers are favoring Inbee Park to win the Open, with Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis and Hyo Joo Kim chasing Park but in a dead heat among themselves.
By the numbers Park should be the favorite, but the numbers don’t take into account the intangibles, the extraordinary pressure and mental fatigue that come with aiming for the top at this penultimate contest, the intensity of that fire in the belly that will fuel play on the back nine on Sunday, or the vagaries of good — and bad — fortune inevitable in every round for every player. All those factors will figure into the equation that determines who will hoist the cup Sunday afternoon.
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It could be Inbee Park, or Stacy Lewis who emerges victorious. But it could also be Brooke Henderson, who acquitted herself so ably in 2014 on the Pinehurst #2 course. The odds-makers are giving Henderson a 35-1 chance. I think it’s a bit better.
The bookies are giving Alison Lee even less of a chance than Henderson to take the win — 80-1 — but I see Alison Lee as able to mount a viable challenge this week.
Two standout amateurs who bear watching, Emma Talley and Gabby Lopez, are so far down the list in terms of betting odds that a shrewd gambler could buy a nice retirement house if either of them make the top of the board, and I don’t see that as out of the realm of possibility.
To be sure, there are favorites, but in a contest among the best of the best, the 2015 US Women’s Open champion could emerge from anywhere within the field.
Fox Sports and Fox Sports 1 will broadcast all the action. Fox Sports 1 will televise the first two rounds from 2-7pm ET Thursday, July 9 and Friday, July 10. The final 36 holes will be broadcast on Fox Sports from 2:30-6:30pm ET Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12.
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