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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Meanwhile, Back in Arkansas...

Even as Ernie Els contends with a 3-way tie for the lead in Germany at the BMW, the ladies of the LPGA have a similar situation at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Except they have a 4-way tie going!

(For those of you outside the US, "Arkansas" is pronounced AR-kan-saw. I know that's a little weird -- especially since it's right next to Kansas, which is pronounced exactly the way it looks -- but such is life.)

This tournament is worth your attention simply because next week is the US Women's Open. The players who are playing well this week could very well be the best bets to win at Sebonack next week. And just who are those players?

Stacy Lewis is one of them. This tournament is very important to her since she went to school at the University of Arkansas, plus she won it as an amateur. The tournament makes a habit of inviting amateurs from UA each year, and it was her first win... albeit an unofficial one since the tournament was shortened to 18 holes because of bad weather. As she walks the fairways you'll hear the crowds "calling the hogs" for her; the "Hogs" are the Arkansas Razorbacks, the school's team. Stacy is #3 on the money list and #2 in the Rolex Rankings.

Beatriz Recari is the second player tied at -10. Beatriz is from Spain and has 3 victories -- 2 on the LPGA and 1 on the LET, including this year's Kia Classic. She's #4 on the money list right now.

The third player is Chie Arimura. She's probably the least familiar name in this list, at least for American viewers. She's from Japan and has 13 JLPGA wins; she's a rookie on the LPGA Tour this year although she's been playing some over here for a few years. She had a Top5 at the Shoprite earlier this month.

The last of the four is So Yeon Ryu, who I've been touting for several months now. She has 6 wins on the KLPGA and two on the LPGA, including the 2011 US Women's Open. She was 2012 Rookie of the Year. This year she's #9 on the money list and went to #5 on the Rolex Rankings just last week.

You've got to think all of these ladies are in good form going into next week's major, and there are a number of highly-ranked players just behind them on the leaderboard... but I'll only mention one of them.

Inbee Park. Remember her? She's T5, 2 shots back. She's also #1 on the Rolex, #1 on the money list, #1 in the Player of the Year race, and she has 4 wins just this year. Did I mention that 2 of those wins are the first 2 majors of the year, the Kraft Nabisco and the Wegmans LPGA? I don't know if she'll win this week, but I'm sure liking what I see going in to next week. I think she's gonna have a legitimate chance to get the third leg of the Slam.

In the meantime, this is shaping up to be quite the finish. Even if you're not a Hog. “Woo, Pig! Sooie!”

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