Big players and contenders so far at the 2011 U.S. Women's Open

Big players and contenders so far at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open

Defending champion Paula Creamer is only three shots behind current leader Stacy Lewis.
Darren Carroll/SI

From rainy Colorado Springs, Sports Illustrated’s Rick Lipsey has the skinny on all the big players in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open.

Stacy Lewis: Leading the American brigade, Lewis, the current leader at four under, is one of eight Americans in the top 15. A victory would give Lewis her second major of the season; she won the Kraft Nabisco in March.

American college stars: A quintet of young women did terrific things in the early going. Amy Anderson, who will turn 19 on July 10th and will be a junior at North Dakota State next year, had a first-round 69; Duke’s Lindy Duncan, 20, was the 2010 and 2011 ACC Player of the Year and shot a one-under 70 in her first round; Danielle Kang, 18, who left Pepperdine after her sophomore season and won the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur, went one over in the opening round; UCLA’s Erynne Lee, 18, shot a first-round 80 but leads the field in driving distance by a mile with a 325-yard average, 18 yards ahead of Lexi Thompson; Ohio State’s Rachel Rohanna, 20, opened with a 73.

Betsy King: She gets an A-plus for qualifying at 55  and being (by four years) the oldest player in the field. Unfortunately, she was 15 over through 27 holes.  On No. 18 in the first round, King drove into the middle of the fairway but hit a worm-burner with a fairway wood that hovered just above the turf and barely cleared the pond that’s 50 yards short of the green.

Ryann O’Toole: This little-known American, 24, is three under through 26 holes of her first U.S. Open. She splits time between the LPGA and Futures tours, where she has three career wins. 

Lexi Thompson:  Getting permission from LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to join the tour — if she can get through Q school this fall — didn’t help the 16-year-old in her fifth U.S. Open. After opening with a disappointing 77, Thompson was toiling on the practice tee with instructor Jim McLean. 

I.K. Kim: She’s  two under through 27 holes. Winning the Open would, amazingly enough, make her the first South Korean to win on tour this season. It wouldn’t be a surprise based on her last three Opens finishes — two ties for third and a fourth.

Karrie Webb: Webb has totally rejuvenated herself at the relatively old (for the LPGA) age of 36. A first-round 70 puts her in the mix to contend for a third U.S. Open title and eighth career major.

Morgan Pressel: At six over through 27 holes, she’ll need a miracle to win her first Open.

Cristie Kerr: She’s in the mix after opening with an even-par 70.

Michelle Wie: Her opening-round 78 included a whopping 35 putts. You have to wonder about the wisdom of Wie’s attempt to simultaneously earn a degree at Stanford and play on the LPGA.

Paula Creamer: The 2010 Open champion is putting up a solid title defense. At even par through 27 holes, she’s right where she wants to be.

Yani Tseng: It seems like the Yani Express has stalled. After two consecutive wins, and grabbing her fourth career major, she’s three over through 27 holes. Her body language is droopy and it doesn’t look like she’ll complete the career Grand Slam this week.