Thursday, July 7, 2011

Picking a Winner for the U.S. Women's Open

Well, it's finally time to make the Ruthless Golf picks for this week's major. I've actually made two, and -- surprise! -- neither of them is the Empress, Yani Tseng.

First of all, here's the basic info you need about the course, taken from LPGA.com and Broadmoor.com's East Course page:
  • Course: The Broadmoor, East Course
  • City: Colorado Springs, CO
  • Par: 71
  • Yardage: 7047 (can play 7355)
  • Altitude: 6400 feet
Although this is very long for a women's course, the altitude makes it play shorter... but at a cost. Most of the women say the distance varies with the type of shot. Players interviewed by GC typically said uphill shots played about 5% shorter and downhill shots 10%, with flat shots in the middle. However, higher-trajectory shots may fly much farther than lower ones, resulting in some inaccurate yardages.

I think this minimizes some of Yani's length advantage -- the USGA does generally try to set up Open courses to give the shorter hitters a chance -- and heavy rains Wednesday evening may have made the rough virtually unplayable. No matter how long your drive is, you may not be able to reach the green if you miss the fairway.

While any of the women could be the winner this week, I think the experienced players may have a greater than normal advantage. Coupling this with adequate length and putting, I think two players stand out in the field. Both of them drive the ball over 250 yards with decent accuracy, and both are good putters.

It's probably no surprise that Cristie Kerr is one of my choices. Cristie hasn't won yet this year, but she hasn't been out of the Top 3 in her last 4 tournaments. In addition to the stats mentioned earlier, she's hitting over 71% GIR. And Cristie also played at the 1995 Open at the Broadmoor as an amateur, giving her a bit of personal knowledge the other players may lack.

My second choice has been all but forgotten as the Empress has pressed her dominion over the Tour. Nobody remembers that Karrie Webb has won twice this season! Granted, she hasn't played particularly well in the last few LPGA events, but she has two Opens under her belt and she's a streaky player capable of going off at any time. Tough conditions could play into her hands this week.

So those are my choices for the week. Make me look good, girls!

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