The 71st U.S. Women’s Open will be staged this week at CordeValle GC in San Martin, Calif., and the most revered tournament in the women’s game is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. With the PGA Tour off this week, here are seven reasons to watch the women this weekend. (As if you need an excuse!)
1. Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson’s budding rivalry. The top two women in the world will have another chance to prove who’s the best in the game this weekend, with Ko looking for redemption after losing to Henderson in a playoff at the last major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Henderson is hot off a win at the Cambia Portland Classic and will look to keep the momentum rolling.
2. Don’t count out Lexi Thompson. America’s top-ranked player can use her immense length off the tee (she averages over 280 yards in driving distance) to tame Cordevalle’s four par 5s. With one tour win this season and a near-miss at the ANA Inspiration, Thompson knows she needs another major title to climb back into the upper echelons of the LPGA’s ‘Big Three.’
2b. Oh, and did we mention? Ko, Henderson and Thompson will play together Thursday and Friday.
3. The Koreans look to take charge once more. Defending champion In Gee Chun returns to the national championship with six top-10s in ‘16, including three runner-up finishes. Sei Young Kim, the 2015 Rookie of the Year, is chasing her first major championship. So Yeon Ryu is seeking her second U.S. Women’s Open while paired with fellow countrywomen Na Yeon Choi and Se Ri Pak for a power-packed grouping. Pak is expected to retire at the end of the season, so this is likely her final U.S. Women’s Open.
4. Beautiful CordeValle will be a fair but fun challenge. The par-72, 6,784-yard course is stuffed with bunkers (68 of them) and a chain of challenging holes known as the “CordeValle Curve,” – the 13th, 14th and 15th. This is the first time in more than 30 years that the U.S. Women’s Open will take place in California, and CordeValle promises to be an exciting setting.
5. You can have your pick if you’re cheering for the home team. Eleven LPGA players call California home, making the stakes much higher for some and the entertainment value much greater for all. Paula Creamer, Lizette Salas, Ryan O’Toole, rookie Lee Lopez and Bay-area resident Christina Kim will surely be among the crowd favorites.
6. There are 9 former champions in the field. In addition to the aforementioned Chun, Choi, Ryu and Pak, back-to-back winner Karrie Webb, Eun-Hee Ji, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie will attempt to take back the trophy.
7. It will be broadcast live. And that’s seems preferable to Greenbrier reruns. Fox Sports 1 will air from 3-8 p.m. ET Thursday and Friday and 3-7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It should be a rabble-rouser of a major.
The U.S. Women’s Open
July 7-10, 2016
CordeValle Golf Club, San Martin, Calif.
Purse: $4.5 million, winners share $810,000
Defending Champ: In Gee Chun (-8)