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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My 5 to Watch for the Women's British Open

It seems as if these "5 to Watch" posts are getting harder and harder as 2014 moves on. And that's particularly true when it comes to the women's game. Unlike the men's game, the top women players seem to genuinely want to grind each other into the ground.

In a ladylike manner, of course! ;-)

Stacy Lewis at last year's Open

But this newfound competitiveness means that there is no single favorite. In addition, many players who haven't won yet this season have come so close that they have to be considered as serious contenders as well.

Just so you know, Stacy Lewis is the defending champion; she won at St. Andrews last year. And Royal Birkdale, the site of this year's Open, has hosted this event twice:
  • in 2005, Jeong Jang won at -16 (her coach was Carl Rabito, the pro who taught me the fundamentals)
  • in 2010, Yani Tseng won her first of two back-to-back Opens at -11
All three players are in the field for this year's event.

I wonder who I should pick? Hmmmmm...
  • I guess Stacy Lewis is a no-brainer. The defending champ also has 3 wins this season -- including the last event in Arkansas -- has a 3rd and a 2nd in the first two majors, and has 9 Top5s this season. Got to figure she's a contender.
  • Likewise, Michelle Wie is playing the best golf of her life and coming off her first major win at Pinehurst. (She also had a 2nd at the Kraft Nabisco, you'll remember.) This is her first multi-win season. And when you factor in that stinger of hers...
  • Catriona Matthew has to make my list. The 2009 champ missed the cut in 2010 but her worst finish since is T11. She's got a T11 and a T10 in the first two majors this year as well. Plus she's Scottish! (If that's stereotyping, so be it. This woman can play some serious links golf!)
  • I'm calling Jiyai Shin my "somewhat off the radar" pick. While we haven't seen her much over here in America -- she chose to stay closer to home this year -- she's a two-time Open champ and won on the JLPGA just a couple of weeks ago.
  • And Stephanie Meadow is my flier pick. The girl made her pro debut at Pinehurst and garnered solo third. (To paraphrase an old sports commercial, "she got skills.") And given that she's from Northern Ireland, I think she's probably had a bit of exposure to Open-style golf!
I'm hesitant to pick Lexi Thompson, primarily because she doesn't have much of a record at the Open -- a T17 in 2012 and a MC in 2013. If her driving is the slightest bit wild, the tall stuff will eat her up. And Inbee Park has played pretty well this year EXCEPT in the majors, so I'm not sure she's quite back on her game yet.

So there you have my "5 to Watch." Although I missed Lexi in my picks for the first major, I did have Michelle in the next major. Maybe I can go 2 for 3...


  1. I don't remember an LPGA season this exciting.

  2. Tell it, girl! People who aren't watching the LPGA and LET this year are really missing something special!