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Australian history at US Women's Open

Minjee Lee headlines the Australian charge at this week's US Women's Open. (Photo: Ladies European Tour)
The most significant event in women’s golf, the US Women’s Open, is upon us and the famed and at times controversial Jack Nicklaus designed Shoal Creek Club in Alabama goes under the spotlight as the host venue.

Both the event and venue have played a significant role in Australian golf.

In 1983 Jan Stephenson became the first Australian woman to win the US Women’s Open when claiming the last of her three major championships and in 2000 and 2001 Karrie Webb won consecutive US Women’s Opens.

Shoal Creek's strong links to Australian golf date back to the 1990 PGA Championship when Wayne Grady won by three shots over Fred Couples.

In that year the venue was threatened with losing the PGA Championship due to its stance on African-American membership and an ultimatum was put to the club which proved a catalyst for change and more inclusive membership in golf clubs in the US.

Shoal Creek's 18th hole

The US Women’s Open has become easily the most lucrative event in the female game.

Worth US$5 million, the US Women’s Open is more than US$1 million richer than its nearest rival, the Evian Championship, and the winner at Shoal Creek will take home US$900,000.

Australian chances of a fourth US Women's Open have improved as a result of Minjee Lee's well-timed victory at the LPGA Volvik Championship.

Now the world's number 8th ranked player, 22-year-old Lee has every right to be considered a genuine contender for her first major title despite having only two major championship top tens in 20 starts.

Karrie Webb will play just her 4th LPGA Tour event of 2018 and on such a restricted schedule it is hard to imagine she will contend but her record at the highest level speaks for itself.

Seven major titles make Webb arguably Australia’s greatest ever player of either gender and her place in the history of the game has been rewarded by a special invitation by the USGA.  

Su Oh finished 5th last week in Michigan, reversing some rather indifferent 2018 form.

In just three US Open starts, the Victorian has missed two cuts and has a best of 56th.

Katherine Kirk will play her 15th US Women’s Open but a best of 25th in those starts and missed cuts at her last two events this season suggest her title chances are slim.

For Sarah Jane Smith, this will be her 7th US Women’s Open and she will aim to improve upon a previous best of 46th at the event.

Sarah Kemp and Robyn Choi managed to get into the field via Sectional Qualifying, an achievement in itself and, for both, one of the few opportunities they get to play an LPGA Tour event.

The event has been dominated by South Koreans in recent times with seven of the last ten champions all from that country including 2017 winner Sung Hyun Park


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