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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the ANA

The first LPGA major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, is finally here. It's time to pick my potential winners (or, as I did at the Match Play last week, the likeliest might-have-beens).

So Yeon Ryu

As usual, here is my link to Tony Jesselli's preview of the event. The ANA, like the Masters, is played at the same venue each year -- the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage CA. The defending champion is Lydia Ko, who picked up her second major win here.

In many ways, I'm going rogue this week. I'm not going to choose Lydia Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brittany Lincicome or Lexi Thompson, despite each one being on most fantasy teams. One thing we have seen this season is that the faves aren't necessarily stepping up and getting it done. So I'm picking some players who may not rank quite as high.
  • In Gee Chun has been a bit erratic this season, but it's easy to forget that she set the all-time scoring record at the Evian last year... which also means she won the last major the women played. And she's won two majors, so the stage isn't too big for her.
  • So Yeon Ryu hasn't won in quite a while but she -- like Stacy Lewis -- has been runner-up some ridiculous number of times in the last couple of years. She's also #1 on the money list because she hasn't been out of the Top7 this season. She already has one major under her belt, and she got one of her runner-ups at Evian last year.
  • Anna Nordqvist won at the Founders Cup a couple weeks back. She has a major and, had it not been for that questionable ruling by the USGA at the US Women's Open last year, she might have made it two. And she has played well at Mission Hills before -- T4 in 2015.
  • HaNa Jang has a win and a couple more Top5s so far this season. Despite being a bit streaky, she's #4 on the money list. She doesn't have much of a record at the majors because she hasn't played that many, but when she's on, she's dangerous.
  • And for my flier, I'm taking Michelle Wie. I know -- outside of a T4 at the HSBC Women's Champions, she doesn't have a lot to show this season. But I like the way she's trending and her attitude. It's also worth remembering that she has one major, and she has played well at Mission Hills before.
And my overall pick? I'm taking Ryu, simply because she's playing so well this year and she's way overdue for a win. Like Stacy Lewis, I think So Yeon's dry spell is as much mental as physical -- but unlike Stacy, So Yeon's game is in better shape to get it done.

GC lists two TV times for Thursday's first round, noon-4pm ET and 7pm-9pm ET. I'm guessing that both might be live coverage since the event is on the West Coast of the US. I certainly hope so, anyway.

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