Fellow Koreans Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for second behind Chun last year, in fact five Koreans finished inside the first six, and it appears a similar domination is likely in 2017 given that five of the first eight on this season’s LPGA Tour money list are South Koreans.
One player who might break up the stranglehold Korean golfers appear to have on the event however is Lexi Thompson who is playing arguably the best golf of her career.
An American has not won this event since 2007 but Thompson has often played well including when runner-up on two occasions and when 3rd once.
Thompson actually led Lydia Ko during the final round in 2015 before Ko went on to win by six but she arrives in France off the back of her win in Indianapolis last week. With one other win and five runner-up finishes in the 2017 season she is in rare form and her credentials for yet another win are very good.
Chun has been five times runner-up in 2017, her two LPGA Tour career victories being major championships including her win in this event last year and at the 2015 US Women’s Open.
Chun finished runner-up at her last start in Portland and 3rd in her previous start in Canada so she brings to this week’s event not only good current form but a win on this golf course and a proven capacity to win major championships.
Park now leads the money list in 2017 after wins at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open and the US Women’s Open and while officially still a rookie there is every reason to believe she can win this event.She quickly learned to negotiate her way around this at times funky layout last year and with that behind her and the confidence of a US Women’s Open win she will contend for favouritism with Chun.
New Zealander Ko turned around a rather indifferent season by her standards when runner-up to Thompson last week and with a win and a runner-up finish in two of her starts in this event she has to be respected.
Ko’s return to contention last week was a relief to all especially given her involvement as a key ingredient at the NZ Women’s Open in two weeks’ time and her ongoing progress this week will be watched with much interest by those involved in the management of the event in Auckland.
Australian hopes lie with Minjee Lee whose 3rd place finish last week in Indianapolis was a great lead-up to what will be her fourth start in this event. Lee played the event well in her first two appearances and while not quite so good last year her four top 3 finishes this season have her as some sort of chance for a first major title.
Can this be a major breakthrough for Minjee Lee?
Lee will be joined by fellow Australians Karrie Webb, Katherine Kirk, Sarah Jane Smith and Su Oh, Webb a winner and three time runner-up in earlier years although not playing quite so well at present. The others have not played the event well and so Minjee Lee is the standout to do well amongst the Australians.
WHY MINJEE LEE LOVES GOLF