The 67th annual U.S. Women’s Open conducted by the USGA takes place at the vaunted Blackwolf Run Golf Course in Kohler, WI this week, marking the second time the course plays host to the Major championship. The third of four Majors this year, the field will feature 156 players competing for a $3.25 million purse and the season’s largest first-place check at $585,000.
Fourteen years ago, the course saw one of the most epic finishes in U.S. Women’s Open history. LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Famer Se Ri Pak became the youngest winner of the title in 1998 during her rookie season, outlasting amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn in a two-hole playoff. If the course wasn’t intimidating then, it will be this year. With 6,984 yards of brand new bentgrass, the course it projected to play a bit firmer and faster. While it’s more than 500 yards longer than it played in 1998, players will get some slack as it changes to a par-72 instead of 71.
Last year’s U.S. Women’s Open was played at the Broadmoor Country Club in Colorado Springs, Colo., where Rolex Rankings No. 19 So Yeon Ryu defeated fellow South Korean Hee Kyung Seo in the tournament’s first-ever all-international playoff. Four straight days of delays due to weather made the final day seem long enough, and a three-hole sudden death playoff made it that much longer. The two travel to Kohler, WI. this week with hopes of being in contention again.
Several players have made strides this season and are looking to conquer Blackwolf Run this week include the top-3 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. No. 1 Yani Tseng is coming off her first missed cut this season at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. With five wins at Major championships already in her career, she needs a win at the U.S. Women’s Open to close out the grand slam. A missed cut isn’t always a bad thing for the Taiwan native though. After missing the cut at the 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Open she turned right back around and won the P&G NW Arkansas Championship Presented by Walmart.
Stacy Lewis is sitting pretty at No. 2 despite finishing with a tie for 19th in Kohler, WI. She has Ai Miyazato snuck into the top-3 after her win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. She secured the win with a birdie putt to finish one-stroke ahead of Azahara Munoz and Mika Miyazato. Each will be seeking their third victory this season.
With the course’s history with rookies it would be no surprise if one claimed a victory this week. Several rookies have been in contention the past two weeks including Veronica Felibert, Lexi Thompson and So Yeon Ryu, who have all placed in the top-5 the past two weeks.
The U.S. Women’s Open was established in 1946 and is the longest running women’s championship. This year’s champ will join a legacy of winner’s including LPGA greats like Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies, Mickey Wright, Louise Suggs, Babe Zaharias and many others.