The US Women's Open Preview
For its 76th edition, the US Women's Open heads to revered Olympic Club. Fittingly for this championship, the Lake Course at the San Francisco venue is among the most challenging in the United States, a difficulty evidenced by the five men's US Opens that have been played here between 1955 and 2012.
Back in December, A-Lim Kim birdied her last three holes to lift the trophy at Champions Club in Houston, and she makes the journey to California hoping to become the first player to successfully defend since the great Karrie Webb 20 years ago.
However, many eyes will be on the legendary Inbee Park who is seeking her third US Women's Open triumph. The seven-time major champion won the Kia Classic in March and has regularly contended in the biggest events. She was in a tie for seventh at the ANA Inspiration, sixth at last year's US Women's Open, fourth at the Women's Open, and second at the Women's PGA Championship.
It's fair to say that the 32-year-old is ready to claim her first major since 2015.
World number one Jin Young Ko might have something to say about that, though, twice a major winner in 2019 and she secured the Tour Championship at the end of last season. The 25-year-old will be keen to ensure that the trophy remains in the hands of South Korea.
Elsewhere, Patty Tavatanakit amazed with her performance at the ANA Inspiration, but fellow Thai and former champion Ariya Jutanugarn comes to Olympic Club in ominous form after winning the Honda LPGA Thailand. Likewise, sister Moriya could certainly be a factor as she reaches for that first major title.
Now 24, Lydia Ko has produced a marvellous career renaissance, showcasing the quality that made her a teenage sensation, and her precise and accurate game will find itself at home on the unrelenting Lake Course. Should the New Zealander complete her resurgence with a US Women's Open - it would be quite a story.
Brittany Lang was the last American champion in 2016, and local support will be on the Korda sisters, Jessica and Nelly, who have both won on the LPGA Tour this season. Each will be expecting to contend on the west coast.
Additionally, Danielle Kang is a major winner with a thirst for more success, while Ally Ewing will be feeling confident after defeating Women's Open champion Sophia Popov to secure the LPGA Match-Play in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Canada's Brooke Henderson is always a player to watch in the biggest events - and she has won on the LPGA Tour this season. The same can be said for Shanshan Feng and Sei Young Kim, the reigning PGA champion.
European interest will be placed on Popov, Charley Hull and Georgia Hall, but it's been 15 years since a player from the Old World won the US Women's Open - and that was Annika Sorenstam at Newport Country Club in 2006.
Three past winners will be hoping to roll back the years - Christie Kerr (2007), Paula Creamer (2010) and Michelle Wie West (2014). It would drive headlines should any of them surprisingly contend, especially Creamer and Wie West, who have struggled with injuries that threatened their careers in recent times.
Olympic Club is destined to provide a USGA standard test, with both technical and mental execution being examined to the fullest this week. Whoever takes the US Women's Open shall be the one who survives the Lake Course - and history has shown that is no mean feat.
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