Fifteen of the top 20 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf World rankings have traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia to compete in the CPKC Women’s Open. Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club has hosted four men’s RBC Canadian Opens and this week marks the first time it will be the venue for the CPKC Women’s Open. Set along the Fraser River, this A.V. Macan Jr. design is a beautiful blend of coastline beauty and tree-lined claustrophobia.
Tall thick pines line the fairways of this par-72 course that measures 6,685 yards. Eight past champions are in the field alongside all four 2023 major champions. Shaughnessy is no stranger to hosting professional golf championships. A proven test, the average winning score in the four men’s RBC Canadian Opens that they’ve hosted is four under par. Sixty-two bunkers, seven holes with water in play and wind off the water all present multiple challenges to the competitors.
If you take a quick glance at the odds board, the usual successful subjects stand out. Hyo Joo Kim is the tournament favorite, followed closely by Nelly Korda, Linn Grant and Rose Zhang. Those last two on that list have quickly ascended to elite status this summer with their fine play. Their talent will be tested if the men’s scoring success is any indicator of how difficult Shaughnessy will play.
Since this is the first time the CPKC Women’s Open is being played here, how can you discern who will perform well? The course architect Macan Jr. also designed Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Oregon, host of the LPGA Tour’s Portland Classic. To start our “winning” research, let’s take a quick run through the field of 156 players and see who has fared well over the last five years in Oregon. Recent winners of the Portland Classic in this field are Andrea Lee, Jin Young Ko, Georgia Hall and Marina Alex.
Those four should have a slight edge as the design will bring back fond memories. Navigating the thick pines takes accuracy, but Shaughnessy is long. From tee to green, major champion Ruoning Yin is the best on Tour, but she is closely followed by Minjee Lee, Kim and Megan Khang. Lee is definitely due to get back in the winner’s circle, but something about Khang’s prep for the Solheim Cup is attention-catching.
The average green size the players will face is 4,285 square feet, small for LPGA tournament course standards. For that reason, expect the field to hit well below the tour average of greens in regulation. Since that is the case, also pay attention to around-the-green play. Khang’s name pops up again along with Korda and Xiyu Lin. None of the three have won this season, but Korda in particular must be facing some intense personal pressure to get a win in 2023.
Shaughnessy’s setup leaves little room for error as the greens are not only small but far away. Twelve of the player’s 18 approach shots are going to be played in from over 150 yards. Accuracy with hybrids and long irons should separate the field significantly. Elite players possess that skill and therefore stand out in these types of championships. Nasa Hataoka and Ally Ewing have been playing great on difficult courses. Look for them both to contend in Vancouver based on the scorecard story and course design.
The next two weeks on Tour will be interesting. Accuracy amongst the tree-lined landscapes will present an unending challenge and players not already qualified will also be thinking about the Solheim Cup as well as trying to win. The major season may be over for the LPGA Tour, but the summer is not, and the competition will continue to be hot, especially at this week’s CPKC Women’s Open.
Keith Stewart is an award-winning PGA Professional. He covers the LPGA and PGA Tour for Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, LPGA, and PGA TOUR. If you are looking to raise your golf acumen and love inside information about the game, check out his weekly newsletter called Read The Line.