U.S. Women's Open Preview
World number one Jin Young Ko heads the field at the 74th U.S. Women's Open seeking a second major title of the season, following her victory at April's ANA Inspiration. The 23-year-old Korean also leads the LPGA Tour for 2019 and will be considered the favourite to clinch the title and the eye-catching $1,000,000 prize to be awarded to the winner at the Country Club of Charleston.
Australia's Minjee Lee is the nearest challenger at the summit of the game, recently securing her fifth LPGA Tour success in Los Angeles. Celebrated for her remarkable amateur career, Lee is yet to translate that prodigious ability into consistency in the biggest championships, but she will be viewed among the most likely contenders in South Carolina.
Former Women's PGA champion, Brooke Henderson will be flying the flag for Canada - also a winner in 2019 - while the impressively consistent Carlotta Ciganda is perhaps Europe's best hope this week, with attention already turning to the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles. The Spaniard will be an invaluable member of Catriona Matthew's team, but a major title would be quite a statement before the autumn rolls around in Perthshire.
The great Inbee Park is searching for her eighth major - and third U.S. Women's Open - but it has been four years since her most recent taste of glory. Defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn won in such dramatic fashion at Shoal Creek 12 months ago, but the Thai has fallen short of that astonishing season in the first half of this campaign, though the taste of this championship could prove to be the perfect tonic for the 23-year-old, former world number one.
For the Americans, Nelly Korda and Danielle Kang will be looked upon as potential winners, and it's difficult to comprehend that Lexi Thompson has been waiting five years for a second major title. The 24-year-old has been most prominent recently for her candid remarks on personal issues and the ugly side of social media, and a triumph here would register as hugely significant.
Past champions Brittany Lang and Cristie Kerr are representing the stars and stripes, while two-time major winner Stacy Lewis has received a special exemption from the USGA to compete, as did Gerina Piller and the legendary Aussie Karrie Webb.
European golf was buoyed by the weekend's breakthrough for Bronte Law, and the impressive Englishwoman will be carrying that positivity into the U.S. Open. Charley Hull has the game for the grandest of stages, but it's been a difficult season to date for Women's British Open champion Georgia Hall, who sits at a comparatively lowly 67th on the LPGA Tour's money list. There is still time to rectify that position, however, and this would be the ideal place to start.
It's a relentless period of the schedule - with four major championships between now and the beginning of August - starting here with the oldest and arguably most prestigious of the women's elite titles. The enhanced prize fund reflects that status.
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