One of the most anticipated events of the season is finally here as The LPGA Tour heads to Southampton, N.Y. for the 68th playing of the U.S. Women’s Open conducted by the USGA. Sebonack Golf Club will be the backdrop for the season’s third major and will feature 156 of the world’s most talented golfers. The third of five majors this year provides one of the largest paychecks this season with $585,000 going to the crowned champion.
Nestled on the Peconic Bay in eastern Long Island, the Sebonack Golf Club will suite any golfer’s eye with wide fairways and expansive bunkers, but the challenge comes on its tricky greens and pin positions. This week’s U.S. Women’s Open marks this first golf championship the course has played host to.
Last year’s U.S. Women’s Open was played at the vaunted Blackwolf Run Golf Course in Kohler, Wis., where Rolex Rankings No. 4 Na Yeon Choi defeated fellow South Korean Amy Yang by four strokes. She became the second South Korean to win the Open at Blackwolf, which played host to the event in 1998 when Se Ri Pak became the youngest winner of the title after an 18-hole playoff. Both will be in Southhamptom this week seeking their second U.S. Women’s Open title.
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park is looking to conquer Sebonack Golf Club this week and earn her third-straight major championship of the year. The South Korean has taken the LPGA Tour by storm this season, capturing five victories including the Honda LPGA Thailand, Kraft Nabisco Championship, North Texas LPGA Shootout, Wegmans LPGA Championship and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. Should Park come out with a win this week, she will become just the fourth player in LPGA history to win three majors in a year, joining LPGA greats Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright and Pat Bradley.
Competition won’t be slim this week as the field also consists of numerous standouts from this season including Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis and No. 5 So Yeon Ryu.
The reigning Rolex Player of the Year played in front of a hometown crowd in Rogers, Ark. last week at the Walmark NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. Tied for the lead heading into Sunday’s final round, Lewis slipped away from the lead after double bogey on the front-nine but managed to finish in a tie for fourth, notching her ninth top-10 finish of the season.
Ryu’s first-career victory on the LPGA Tour came at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open when she was a non-member. She defeated Hee Kyung Seo on the third hole of a sudden death playoff to earn LPGA membership for the 2012 season. She not only validated her major victory with a win at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic last year, but also proved to be a tough competitor as she notched 15 additional top-10 finishes en route to earning the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award.
Last week, Ryu had a flashback to her victory at the Broadmoor course in Colorado when she found herself in a playoff with fellow South Korean and best friend Inbee Park. Although she ultimately fell short to capturing her second-career victory, the solid runner-up finish is sure to be a confidence booster for this week’s U.S. Women’s Open.
Other big names likely to make a statement this week include several top-finishers from last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship: No. 3 Suzann Pettersen, No. 13 Paula Creamer, No. 14 I.K. Kim, and amateur Lydia Ko.
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, Se Ri Pak, Mickey Wright, Louise Suggs, Babe Zaharias and many others.