by Jeff Skinner
It’s time to look past the all the controversy that surrounds the LPGA Tour right now. This season has seen more headlines concerned with the off the course issues than with the performance of the players. The problems and questions that plague the tour need to be put on hold for a few days while to ladies play a little bit of golf to decide this year’s US Women’s Open champion. After all, this is the USGA’s party, not the LPGA’s. The USGA runs this week’s tournament, with very little influence from the LPGA. Just ask Michele Wie and Natalie Gulbis.
There has been no real dominating player in women’s golf this year. Annika’s departure has left a void in ladies golf. There are two players with two wins on this year’s LPGA Tour. Last year at season’s end there were six players with multiple wins. Here are some players to watch this week at The Open.
Lorena Ochoa is the current number one golfer in the world with two wins this year. Her last win was in April and last three results are T8, T23 and T19, hardly the finishes she was used to last year when she won seven times. Her top finish at the Open is T2 in 2007. She would love to change that and make this her third major win.
Cristie Kerr has one win and eight top ten finishes this year. She is the 2007 Open champ and one of the Americans that really has a chance to win. Kerr is number three in scoring and money on the LPGA. She loves this tournament and is highly motivated to get another Open trophy.
Angela Stanford is another top ranked American. She is number four in scoring and seventh on the money list. Her win this year was all the way back in February, but has three top tens in her last four outings.
Paula Creamer has to be considered a dark horse pick. She may be the highest ranked American in the Rolex Rankings, but she is winless this year, after a four win season last year. She has battled illness and had to withdraw from last week’s tournament with a thumb injury. This will be a real challenge for her.
Yani Tseng, from Taiwan, is number two in the world and has one win and eight top tens this year including her last two tournaments. She may be the hottest player right now. Tseng is second in both scoring and money. She was Rookie of the Year last year and has a major win, the 2008 LPGA Championship.
Jiyai Shin is the other player with two wins this year and is number three in the world. She won three times last year including a major. She is the LPGA’s money leader and fifth in scoring average. Her last four finishes are T17, win, third and twelfth. She has major game and could make this her second major win.
Others who could make some noise are Suzann Pettersen, In Kyung Kim, and Karrie Webb. I am looking for a pair of young Americans to make a mark in this Open. Third year player, Kristy McPherson has two top tens in her last three tries, including a T5 in a major. She is a grinder and an accurate driver that could thrive on a USGA setup. Rookie, Stacy Lewis, qualified for this Open with her third place finish in last year’s Open. This has been an up and down season, her last four starts consist of two top tens and two missed cuts. Lewis may be finding her game now and if she is, she could be around the top come Sunday. I’ll make her my true dark horse pick this week.