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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

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

Three Open Championships in a row! How cool is that?

This week the ladies take their turn at links golf. Trump Turnberry may have been the source of some unwanted publicity this year but, politics aside, this is a classic track that should really challenge the women to play some of their best golf so far.

Scoreboard at the RICOH Women's British Open

The defending champion is Mo Martin, but I'm having trouble picking her to repeat. As much as I like Mo's game -- she's short off the tee but extremely accurate -- her win in last year's Open at Royal Birkdale was the highest winning score (-1) since it became a major on the LPGA. Unless they have bad weather at Turnberry, I don't see that getting it done this year.

In fact, I'm not sure there are any sure bets this year. Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis all seem a bit off their games, Michelle Wie is still injured (although she still plans to tee it up), and I'm not sure how Lexi Thompson's hand will hold up taking huge divots in hard links sand.

So it looks like time to avoid the standard chalk picks and look for hidden gems...
  • Suzann Pettersen may seem like a chalk pick but she hasn't broken into the Top5 in majors lately. And except for her win earlier this season, she's struggled to reach double digits under par. (She shot -22 at Manulife, but no better than -11 at any other LPGA event... and her best major finish was -9 at the ANA. She shot +8 at the US Open and missed the cut.) But she played pretty well in Scotland this past week and she'll be acclimated to the weather and time change, so she makes my list.
  • Gerina Piller doesn't have a good record at the RICOH but -- with the exception of the US Open -- has been playing very well lately. I'm going with form over past performance here; Gerina is due and if Phil Mickelson can pick up one of these things...
  • Morgan Pressel has three 3rds in the first 3 majors of the season. With her increased length off the tee and her ability to hit the low ball, I think she'll do well again.
  • Sei Young Kim has no record at the RICOH because she's never played it. I'm calling this one on beginner's luck.
  • And finally, Shanshan Feng was last year's runner-up and she's a Top10 machine this season. She just might get it done this time.
Of course, at least one of the big names is likely to get into contention if not win. But the RICOH is one of the hardest tournaments for any woman to build a consistent record in. And given how wild this year has been so far, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect an upset.

In fact, given Trump's recent comments, wouldn't it be really cool if Lizette Salas won? I didn't pick her but I'll sure be pulling for her!

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