Six Australians will tee it up at this week’s 71st US Women’s Open starting later today at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster New Jersey, with at least three of them going into the week with seemingly legitimate chances of lifting the trophy on Sunday.
Katherine Kirk got the late call-up to the event after her sensational win last week at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, and must be given a chance again this week if her putter remains as hot as it has been in recent weeks. In her dramatic one shot win over South African Ashleigh Buhai, the Queenslander only needed to use her putter 106 times averaging out at 26.5 putts per round, impressive reading when she also hit over 76% of greens in regulation.
Kirk’s game is right where it needs to be heading into a major, the only question mark will be how much energy last week’s win has taken of the 35-year-old.
Minjee Lee has had another great season in 2017 in her third year on the LPGA Tour, appearing regularly on the leaderboard and accumulating 6 top 10 finishes including a 3rd place at the ANA Inspiration.
The young West Australian has not managed to notch a win as yet in 2017, despite accumulating over half a million dollars in earnings and sitting 13th on the LPGA’s Race to the CME Globe. Her long-time coach Ritchie Smith made the comment two weeks ago prior to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship that Minjee is ready to take the step up and claim her first major title, and despite finishing disappointingly at that event no one would be surprised to see her claim the title this week in New Jersey.
Sarah Jane Smith has had a fantastic 2017 so far, she equalled her best finish in a major championship at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship finishing tied for 14th, and the only thing getting in the way of her first LPGA title is seemingly her inability to string four rounds together.
The affable Queenslander currently sits in 38th place on the LPGA’s Race to the CME Globe, and there is no doubt she has the game and the mindset to win at the highest level. There would be no more popular winner if Smith could claim her first LPGA title this week.
Of the other Australians in the field Lee’s former Australian teammate Su Oh had her best finish since early 2016 when she finished 4th at the Meijer Classic in late June, and seems to be growing in confidence after making some swing changes earlier in the year under the watchful eye of coach Cameron McCormick in Dallas.
There is no doubt the talented youngster has the ability to contend against the best and it would be no shock to see her name appear on the leaderboard at some point during the week.
Karrie Webb has had by her standards a dismal start to 2017, and currently sits at 127 on the LPGA’s Race to the CME Globe.
The 42-year-old slipped out of the top 100 in the Rolex Women’s Rankings for the first time ever last week having been for so long the highest ranked Australian.
Webb has now seen Lee, Oh, Smith and Kirk go past her, and the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer is now our 5th highest ranked player.
Webb did show glimpses of form at the Shoprite Classic earlier last month where she finished tied for 17th, but has also missed 7 cuts from 13 starts so far in 2017 and is 136th in putting averages.
Perhaps returning to an event she has won twice may be the spark Webb needs to find her best form, she has great memories of her two US Women’s Open victories, in 2001 at the Merit Club and in 2001 at Pine Needles.
Queensland amateur Robyn Choi is also in the field this week after pre-qualifying earlier this year.
Australian player tee-times
7:07am Minjee Lee, IK Kim, Jenny Shin
8:24am Katherine Kirk, Pernilla Lindberg, Mariajo Uribe
1:25pm Karrie Webb, Su Oh, Sarah-Jane Smith
2:09pm Meghan MacLaren, Kyung Kim, Robyn Choi (am)
Live scoring can be found at lpgascoring.com
Watch round 1 action live on FoxSports Australia from 4:00am AEST on Friday 14th July