Kingsmill Championship: 7 Groups to watch, rounds 1 and 2

Anna Nordqvist of Sweden. Mandatory Credit: Luke Franke/Naples Daily News via USA TODAY NETWORK
Anna Nordqvist of Sweden. Mandatory Credit: Luke Franke/Naples Daily News via USA TODAY NETWORK /

Rookies, veterans, and some players from the middle will be worth watching during the 1st and 2nd rounds of the Kingsmill Championship

Seven Kingsmill Championship first and second round pairings may hold the key to the direction the tournament takes.

We’ll all be watching the battle for control of the top of the Kingsmill leaderboard on Sunday, of course. But that’s not the only story likely to emerge from the tournament and if we’re only following the top of the board we’re likely to miss some of the more subtle drama unfolding on Kingsmill’s River Course.

There’s the potential for a new storyline unfolding in each of the following 7 groups.

Group 12: Angel Yin, Anna Nordqvist, Moriya Jutanugarn, 7:55am Tuesday

I’m keeping an eye on Angel Yin. The rookie who missed 3 cuts in her  first 6 starts suddenly came alive at the Texas Shootout and kept the momentum going at the Lorena Ochoa Match Play with two consecutive top 5 finishes. Were those finishes a fluke or has she found her rhythm? Let’s see how she does playing with Anna Nordqvist and Moriya Jutanugarn, both consistent and, at least in Nordqvist’s case, standout competitors.

I’m thinking Angel Yin might be a sleeper to win the Kingsmill!

Group 14: Nelly Korda, So Yeon Ryu, Brittany Lincicome, 8:05am Tuesday

Can rookie Nelly Korda keep pace with two of the Tour’s finest players, So Yeon Ryu and Brittany Lincicome? Ryu’s currently leading the Tour’s Official Money List, Race to the CME Globe, and Scoring Average (68.57) so she’s very likely to set the pace in this group. And will Lincicome get focused on her game? She has a good one in her bag but she needs to pull it out and put it to work. She’s currently lallygagging down at 9th in the Solheim Cup rankings, a dangerous place to be with Michelle Wie and Mo Martin coming up behind her.

I’m looking for Ryu to inspire both Korda and Lincicome to deliver impressive 1st and 2nd rounds this week.

Group 16: Lexi Thompson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Gerina Piller, 8:17am Tuesday

Watching these 3 power players duke it out for 36 holes will be just plain fun. I honestly can’t imagine a more exciting pairing and I’m not foolish enough to advance a prediction on how the internal dynamic will work out, but there will be fireworks.

Group 35: Haru Nomura, Jessica Korda, Austin Ernst, 12:55pm Tuesday

Jessica Korda and Austin Ernst are both well-positioned going into the Kingsmill to secure spots on Team USA for this summer’s Solheim Cup, but neither of them can afford to relax. They need to maintain their momentum – Korda, in particular, understands what’s at risk at this point in the season. She got left behind when Team USA went to St Leon-Rot in 2015. So I’m looking for maximum effort from both, and Haru Nomura is going to do more than go along for the ride.

The Sunday champion could easily emerge from this group, particularly if Thompson and A. Jutanugarn get involved in a risk-taking shootout during the first 36 holes.

Group 37: In Gee Chun, Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, 1:06pm

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This is another interesting pairing of champions and although none of the made it into my Kingsmill power rankings that doesn’t mean they’re not capable of pulling the win out of their bag come Sunday afternoon. Let’s see how they look come Friday afternoon. Don’t be surprised to see all three of them challenging the top of the board.

Group 39: Lydia Ko, Cristie Kerr, Brooke Henderson, 1:17pm

World No. 1 Lydia Ko hasn’t been delivering the game quality we’ve come to expect from her and Brooke Henderson is pushing hard for a 2017 win. They’ll both have some work to do to match Cristie Kerr’s performance. On paper, they’re both up to the challenge but let’s see how that works out in practice. Kerr is a superb strategist. Expect her course management to give her the advantage. But Ko at her best is the supreme shot-maker and there’s no more aggressive, power-driven player on the Tour than Brooke Henderson. There’s a battle of contrasting styles brewing in this group and we’ll have 36 holes to watch it unfold and get resolved.

Group 43: Bronte Law, Aditi Ashok, Brittany Altomare, 1:39pm, Tuesday

I’m keeping a close eye on Bronte Law and Aditi Ashok. They’re both rookies and they both have enormous potential, even though they’re currently struggling to survive their rookie year on the Tour. Along with Angel Yin and Nelly Korda, Law and Ashok in many ways dcapture the future of the women’s game, its international flavor and balance.

How to follow the action

Golf Channel will be providing delayed tape broadcasts of the first and second rounds of the Kingsmill, 9-11pm ET on Thursday, May 18 and Friday, May 19. You can also follow the action live on the LPGA’s electronic leaderboard and on Twitter @ProGolfNow and @KingsmillLPGA.

Next: Kingsmill Championship power rankings

Who are you following at the Kingsmill Championship, both at the top of the leaderboard and a bit further down?