Wednesday, July 6, 2011

U.S. Women's Open Preview, Predictions, Pairings

With so many great previews of the U.S. Women's Open already published, I'll start my own by pointing you to the best:

Plus we've got video from The Golf Channel and the USGA. OK, so here are some quick thoughts of my own on the challenges facing the players this week. Like any U.S. Open, this one will challenge every facet of a player's game and character. But at over 6200 feet in elevation, with a very dry course, and with relatively generous fairways (at least compared to Locust Hill's at the Wegmans LPGA Championship), I don't think length will be at as much of a premium as many seem to think. Yes, high-ball hitters will benefit more from the elevation than everyone else, but shorter hitters will still get plenty of roll. And given the GSCAA's description of the rough:
The rough, a mix of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass, features the USGA-favored graduated cuts to further penalize shots the further they land from the fairway. The first cut of rough is 6 feet wide and 1 1/4 inches tall. The second cut goes 15 to 20 feet further from the fairway and 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches high, depending on the hole. Beyond that, the rough is 3 1/4 inches tall.
, I'm not sure that even accuracy will be as much of a premium as it is at a typical Open. Players who just miss the fairway will still have opportunities to go for greens. And I think that's where the real challenge lies this week: getting your approach shots to the right part of the generous greens, reading them well, and rolling the ball well. If I'm right, these are the players who should excel this week:

1. Pettersen
2. Kerr
3. Tseng
4. Yang, Amy
5. Kim In-Kyung
6. Pressel
7. Miyazato Mika
8. Creamer
9. Lewis, Stacy
10. Choi Na Yeon
11. Lincicome
12. Shin Ji-Yai

Alts: Stanford, Webb, Yokomine

I'd love to follow the following pairings on Thursday:

10th tee, 8:28 am: Ai Miyazato, Karrie Webb, Cristie Kerr
10th tee, 1:58 pm: Ji-Yai Shin, Suzann Pettersen, In-Kyung Kim
1st tee, 1:36 pm: Danielle Kang [a], Ya Ni Tseng, Paula Creamer
10th tee, 7:22 am: Momoko Ueda, Kristy McPherson, Jee Young Lee
10th tee, 1:36 pm: Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Lewis, Na Yeon Choi
10th tee, 7:55 am: Se Ri Pak, Inbee Park, Michelle Wie 1st tee,
1:14 pm: Anna Nordqvist, Angela Stanford, Morgan Pressel
1st tee, 9:01 am: Mina Harigae, Amy Anderson [a], Jennifer Song
1st tee, 12:52 pm: Sakura Yokomine, Katherine Hull, Song Hee Kim
1st tee, 7:33 am: Jane Park, Amanda Blumenherst, Juli Inkster
1st tee, 8:28 am: Lexi Thompson, Mariajo Uribe, Eun-Hee Ji

I'm very curious to see how the visitors from the JLPGA (Sun-Ju Ahn, Sakura Yokomine, Mi-Jeong Jeon, Yukari Baba, Shinobu Moromizato), KLPGA (Bo-Mee Lee, Shin Ae Ahn, So Yeon Ryu), and LET (Lee-Anne Pace, Melissa Reid) fare this week! The fight for low amateur will be very tough, as well. It's tough to choose between Danielle Kang, Victoria Tanco, and Ariya Jutanugarn, but I think I'll go with Tanco. Finally, it's been little-remarked-upon in the golfy media (although much by my commenters), but Lexi Thompson needs a great finish this week to get into the top 100 on the Rolex Rankings and avoid having to choose between the Women's British Open and the 1st stage of LPGA Q-School.

So as you can see, there are lots of subplots besides the main ones of Ya Ni Tseng trying to become the youngest-ever to complete the career Grand Slam, Paula Creamer trying to defend her title, Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel to stop knocking on the door and start busting it down, Suzann Pettersen trying to get her 1st multiple-win season since 2007, and Hall of Famers Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster, and Betsy King trying to show the kids a thing or 2 about kicking butt at the Broadmoor. Can't wait for this thing to get started!

[Update 1 (9:48 am):  Here are Ruthless Mike's picks.]

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