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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the US Women's Open

It's time for the third LPGA major of the year, the US Women's Open at Trump National Bedminster in Bedminster NJ.

Brittany Lang, defending champion

The defending champion is Brittany Lang, although in many ways Brittany seems to be a forgotten player this week. Her best finish this season is a T13, and she's missed two of her last three cuts. She'll have her work cut out for her if she hopes to repeat.

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event at his site. Tony and his wife are at the event this week and you can also see photos he has taken if you check some of his other posts.

Well, that takes care of the window dressing. Time to get down to business and make my picks.

As you may expect, I'm not taking some of the better players who I might typically pick.
  • I still don't think Lydia Ko is quite back in major form.
  • I'm bothered by Ariya Jutanugarn's recent WD due to a shoulder injury.
  • Ironically, I don't think Inbee Park's putting is quite up to the task right now.
  • And while Lexi Thompson's mom is finally finished with her radiation treatments, I'm not sure her mind is going to be fully on her game.
So who does that leave? To be honest, I'm not sure anybody's a lock this week. But let's see what I can come up with:
  • Let's start off with Danielle Kang. Normally I wouldn't pick someone who has just won their first major -- as my regular readers know, I generally figure on a two- to three-month readjustment period. But Danielle has been building to this over the last few months and she said she "found something" at her last event, which happened to be her major. So I'm going to take a gamble on her this week.
  • Likewise, So Yeon Ryu has become a standard in my picks because, even if she doesn't win, she's so consistent that she has a good chance to get in contention. I see no reason to leave her bandwagon yet.
  • Brooke Henderson is right on the cusp of a big win. In her last three starts she got a win at the Meijer and a runner-up at the KPMG. So how can I leave her off my list?
  • Michelle Wie is struggling a mild case of whiplash from an off-season car accident. However, she's played extremely well lately, with three Top4 finishes in her last few starts. I'm thinking that bump-up is the reason she's played with such a controlled swing as of late, and that should serve her well this week. After all, that's how she got her first major -- also a US Women's Open.
  • And my flier is Cristie Kerr, who basically just needs for her putter to catch fire this week. With her, it could happen.
This could be a wide-open major, at least for the ballstrikers. It's a new venue so no one really has the advantage of experience here. That certainly levels the playing field and, although I didn't pick any new winners, I could definitely see one getting the trophy this week.

But I've gotta go with my gut, and my gut says that Ryu is due. She broke through on a tough US Open course, and that's what they should be facing this week. So yeah, I'm going chalk.

Remember that USGA events are being covered by FOX now, so coverage begins Thursday at 2pm ET on FOX Sports 1. Also be sure to check out the LPGA leaderboard page, as there are numerous listings for online coverage at usga.org.

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