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U.S. Women's Open Preview

Golf

FORE! The U.S. Women’s Open Championship starts tomorrow (!!!), so before the world’s best golfers take to the course, here’s everything you need to know about the second major of the LPGA season.

June 02, 2021
SOURCE: ROBERT WALKER/USGA
SOURCE: ROBERT WALKER/USGA

QUOTE OF THE DAY

It’s a wonderful feeling to win this championship. Once was wonderful. To win it twice was more than wonderful.

—Annika Sörenstam, the third-winningest golfer in LPGA history, who won the U.S. Women’s Open three straight times. Wonder how wonderful that third win was?

⛳️ The set-up

SOURCE: PATRICK KOENIG/GOLF.COM

After last year’s event was postponed from its usual date in June to December due to COVID-19, the 2021 tournament is now back in its rightful summer spot. Can you feel that Gemini energy?

Established in 1946, the U.S. Women’s Open is the oldest of the five LPGA majors, and the second of the season, after April’s ANA Inspiration. LPGA tournaments are usually four-day competitions, meaning the U.S. Women’s Open winner will be crowned Sunday.

  • This year’s field is made up of 156 of the world’s best golfers who will tee off at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California, all in the hunt for the Harton S. Semple Trophy...and a cool $1 million. 
  • And while we’d love to predict a winner now (betting on women is kind of our thing), if the LPGA has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected...

🏆 The reigning champ

SOURCE: ERIC GAY/AP

Kim A-lim, South Korea: The Korean rookie came from behind to win the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open, largely thanks to three straight birdies to end her final round. Not only was it her first major win, but it was her first pro win ever on the LPGA Tour. 

  • Since that December win, she’s entered six tournaments and made the cut in just three, though her top 10 finish in April’s Lotte Championship was pretty impressive.

🥇 The other major winners

SOURCE: LPGA

Patty Tavatanakit, Thailand: The only major played between this U.S. Women’s Open and last year’s was the ANA Inspiration in April, won impressively by Tavatanakit. Not only was it her first major win, but it was her first pro win ever on the LPGA Tour...wait, didn’t we just say that?

Sophia Popov, Germany: The reigning Women’s British Open champion has the ultimate underdog story. She entered the 2020 event ranked 304th in the world. Not only was it her first major win, but it was her first pro win ever on the LPGA Tour...okay, now it’s just getting weird.

Kim Sei-young, South Korea: Since the 2020 Evian Championship cancelation, the only other reigning major champ from 2020 is Women’s PGA Championship winner Sei-young. Although that was her first major win, she had already won 10 LPGA events before, so we’ll stop with the déjà vu now.

💪 The contenders

SOURCE: JOEY YU/EPA-EFE

The Korda sisters, USA: We can’t pick just one — both world No. 11 Jessica and No. 4 Nelly Korda are winners in our eyes and in the 2021 record books, having both won LPGA tournaments earlier this year.

  • Add to that eight other top 10 finishes between them this year and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry, and these two could be the most competitive golfers on the course this weekend.

Brooke Henderson, Canada: Henderson broke her two-year winless drought with a HUGEL-Air Premia LA Open win in April. She already has a major title on her résumé, the 2016 Women’s PGA Championship, and we think it’s time she doubles the tally.

Lydia Ko, New Zealand: After dominating the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the former world No. 1 and two-time major winner found herself in a lull for a few years...until now. The Kiwi won the LOTTE Championship in April while also recording four top 10 finishes since February. Can we call it a comeback?

🔢 By the numbers

SOURCE: JOHN MUMMERT/USGA

Minus 16: The lowest recorded U.S. Women’s Open score, set in 1999 by Juli Inkster in the first of her two victories. 

4: The record for most career U.S. Women’s Open wins, shared by Mickey Wright and Betsy Rawls.

19: Age of the youngest champ in tournament history, Inbee Park of South Korea, when she won in 2008.

39: The size of the field in the first U.S. Women’s Open in 1946.

1,595: The number of entries (from eligible golfers who want to qualify) the USGA received for the 2021 event. 

$5.5 million: The total prize purse for 2021, to be split amongst all players who make it past Friday’s cut. Just for reference, the men’s U.S. Open purse is $12.5 million. We’ve come far, but still have a ways to go.

🥰 Memorable moments

SOURCE: AP

With every major, there comes the opportunity for another herstoric moment. Here are a few of our favorites over the last 75 Opens:

1954: At the age of 43, and just one year after battling cancer, Babe Zaharias became the oldest major winner. Sadly, she wasn’t able to defend her title in 1955 when her cancer returned, and though she passed in 1956, her name will live on forever in U.S. Women’s Open lore.

1998: They call it the win that inspired a nation. A relatively unknown 20-year-old from South Korea named Se Ri Pak won the title after three playoff holes, and her victory sparked a golf boom in her homeland. Deservedly, Pak became the first (and so far, only) Korean to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

2014: Michelle Wie West had already set a wild number of records by the time she turned pro in 2005 at the age of 15, but it wasn’t until 2014 that she finally won her most elusive victory: her first (and only, to date) major title.

👀 How to watch

SOURCE: KELVIN KUO/USA TODAY SPORTS

Before the action begins tomorrow, check out the full field and tee times here. Then set yourself up in front of a screen for the next four days, because the U.S. Women’s Open will air live on Peacock and NBC in the U.S., TSN in Canada and the Golf Channel in both nations. Enjoy!