The IX: Golf Thursday with Sarah Kellam, June 3, 2021
U.S. Women's Open storylines to watch — Fun USGA content — Must-click women's golf links
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What to watch at the U.S. Women’s Open
Major championship golf is always the best, but U.S. Open weeks in particular are simply spectacular. The atmosphere is elevated, the conditions are tough, and the players are in full grind mode. Everyone is gunning for a win, even more so than at other events on tour, and all the pressure of making history can be palpably felt in every step taken, every shot struck, and every putt holed.
And, after a short six months without one, the LPGA Tour is back at it in California.
It’s the 76th playing of the U.S. Women’s Open this week and the Olympic Club will host its first ever USGA women’s championship. With all eyes on San Francisco, the best players in the world will be duking it out at a top-notch, excruciatingly difficult course. You’d be crazy not to watch the carnage and drama unfold.
As is the usual for a week of this magnitude, there are almost too many storylines to keep your eye on, so here’s what I’ll have my attention focused on this week.
First things first, the Korda sisters. The duo are paired together for the first two rounds along with So Yeon Ryu and both are still seeking their first major. We’ve only seen this grouping a few times previously and it’s always so interesting to watch the intricacies of a sibling dynamic play out in a competitive situation.
Plus, the Kordas have been in solid form this season, each carding a victory and neither having missed a cut so far in 2021. They’re both good strikers of the golf ball with Jessica ranking 7th in average driving distance and 4th in greens in regulation on Tour and Nelly being 9th longest and 36th in GIR, and that ability will definitely come in handy with the narrow, sloping fairways and tricky greens at Olympic.
Look for them both to be near the top of the leaderboard throughout the event and, come Sunday, they’ve each got great chances to hoist the trophy.
Michelle Wie West is another big name that everyone is speculating about this week. She makes her first U.S. Women’s Open berth since 2018. She only recently made her return to professional golf and has played in just three tournaments leading up to Olympic, missing the cut at the Kia Classic, ANA Inspiration, and HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open.
Wie West been much busier with the #HoodieForGolf women’s golf advocacy movement she began in conjunction with the LPGA than she has been with competing, so it’ll be interesting to see if the adopted San Franciscan plays well around Olympic. Considering the sport desperately needs the name recognition that Michelle provides, everyone in women’s golf is rooting for her, but with only 3 starts under her belt and a wrist that’s prone to injury, good play is a toss-up for Wie West at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Lastly, I’m curious to see how difficult the Olympic Club plays for the women this week. I’ve seen some photographs of the course popping up on social media detailing the thickness of the rough, the smallness of the fairways, and the slope of the terrain and it looks like it could be an absolute brawl to break par out there.
Carnage always makes golf more compelling, but consider: only four players ever in the five U.S Opens that have been hosted at this venue have carded under par weeks. The women’s game needs to continue to have tough major tests just like the men do. But it worries me that, with all eyes on the LPGA Tour this week, high numbers could invite more of the stereotypical “I could beat her” nonsense that plagues this part of golf.
Absolutely, someone this week could add their name to the list as the fifth person to shoot a red number at Olympic in a USGA championship and there’s no doubt that it can happen. I just hope a course this tough will positively highlight the elite skill of the world’s best, not take away from it.
This challenging of a venue also sets up for an unlikely, under-the-radar winner much like the ones that we have had the last two years in Jeong-eun Lee6 and A Lim Kim. That’s not to say that a Korda sister or a Jin Young Ko or a Brooke Henderson cannot and will not win here, but it’s conditions like these that provide an opportunity for an unknown to quietly plot their way around, post a decent number, and end up with the Semple trophy. Look at Webb Simpson in 2012.
Regardless of what happens, it’s one of the best weeks in golf and drama is sure to unfold in San Francisco. Players get their first crack at it beginning today and it will be fascinating to watch them sink their teeth into the formidable test that is the Olympic Club, going up against a U.S. Open, the most demanding test in golf.
This week in women’s golf
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There are 40 first-timers in the USWO field this week. (via Golfweek.com)
Here’s what you need to know about the Olympic Club, host of the 76th U.S. Women’s Open. (via Golfweek.com)
Here are some of the best storylines to follow at the U.S. Women’s Open. (via GOLF.com)
Here are some things to keep your eye on at Olympic this week. (via USGA.org)
It’s going to be a tough week of golf for some of the world’s best and Shannon Rouillard of the USGA is looking forward to the difficulty of the layout for the players. (via GolfDigest.com)
The USGA is committed to the tough test on tap for the players this week. (via GolfDigest.com)
Get a behind the scenes look at the Olympic Club. (via Golfweek.com)
NBC’s Kay Cockerill is giving players some of her local knowledge at the USWO. (via Golfweek.com)
Take a look inside the USWO field. (via USGA.org)
Nelly Korda looks to become the first of the Korda kids to nab a major title. (via GolfChannel.com)
More from Ron Sirak on the Kordas ahead of their playing together in San Francisco. (via USGA.org)
Inbee Park is looking to make history by nabbing a 3rd USWO title in her storied career. (via GolfChannel.com)
So Yeon Ryu looks back on her 2011 USWO victory ten years later. (via LPGA.com)
So Yeon Ryu was ready to quit golf, but then she won the USWO in 2011. (via GolfDigest.com)
Michelle Wie West is making the most of “borrowed time” at Olympic this week. (via GolfDigest.com)
Brooke Henderson has her sights set on winning her first U.S. Open this week. (via GolfChannel.com)
This LPGA Tour veteran was “terrified” upon her first glimpse of Olympic. (via GolfDigest.com)
Amateur Amari Avery has got some game according to Cheyenne Woods. (via Golfweek.com)
This 14 year old is one of the longer hitters in the U.S. Women’s Open field along with being the youngest to tee it up. (via GolfDigest.com)
The latest episode of the Amy and Adam show is a preview of the USWO this week. (via GolfChannel.com)
The Forward Press podcast is previewing the USWO in San Francisco. (via Golfweek.com)
GOLF.com’s staff gives you their picks to win the USWO. (via GOLF.com)
Who is the betting favorite at Olympic this week? Here are the odds. (via GolfChannel.com)
Here’s how to watch this week’s major championship. (via LPGA.com)
Here’s how the cut line works and the playoff rules for this week’s major. (via GolfChannel.com)
Here are the first round pairings at the U.S. Women’s Open. (via Golfweek.com)
A look at the forecast for the U.S. Women’s Open. (via GolfChannel.com)
Here are some player reactions to the LPGA moving into the gambling space. (via GolfDigest.com)
Ally Ewing takes down Sophia Popov in final match at Shadow Creek. (via Golfweek.com)
Get a glimpse inside the mind of Lydia Ko in this Q&A. (via GolfDigest.com)
The CP Women’s Open is canceled again in 2021. (via Golfweek.com)
Check out this Golf Channel interview with Vision 54’s Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson. (via GolfChannel.com)
Here’s the latest movement in the Race for the Card. (via SymetraTour.com)
Ali Palma previews the Island Resort Championship, this week’s Symetra Tour stop. (via SymetraTour.com)
Min Lee wins her third title on the Symetra Tour at Mission Inn. (via SymetraTour.com)
Everything you need to know about last week’s Symetra Tour winner Min Lee. (via SymetraTour.com)
Here’s what was in the bag for Min Lee’s win last week. (via SymetraTour.com)
Annabel Dimmock is defending at the Jabra Ladies Open on the LET. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Three things to watch at this week’s LET stop. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Here are some memories from the Jabra Ladies Open. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Tvesa Malik, an LET professional, is working towards her dreams by traveling and playing golf. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Georgia Hall and Lexi Thompson plan to compete in the Aramco Team Series – London in July. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
History was made by Lucie Malchirand this past week when she won on the LET as an amateur. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Here’s how an amateur captured the Ladies Italian Open title. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Amatuer Lucie Malchirand won the Ladies Italian Open. (via LadiesEuropeanTour.com)
Ole Miss win’s the women’s golf national championships. (via Golfweek.com)
Kennedy Swann was instrumental in Ole Miss’ national championship win. (via Golfweek.com)
Tweet of the Week
Five at the IX: GREAT pieces to watch from the USGA
The USGA curates a SOLID content team for their U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Open competitions that’s mostly led by women. Here are five of the pieces they’ve created that are definitely worth watching (and laughing at) this week. (The Hally-athlon and dumplings are my favorites!)