The best players in the world are gathering at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey for the third women's major of the year, all vying for a piece of the US$5 million purse, which stands well clear of the next richest event in the game - the US$3.5 million KPMG Women’s PGA Championship a fortnight ago.
This week's US Women’s Open champion will take home the biggest ever first prize of US$900,000 but also a trophy and title that will ensure a place in golf history.
Trump National - a Tom Fazio-designed layout which opened in 2004 - has never hosted the US Women’s Open and it will be the first time the national championship has been staged in New Jersey since Laura Davies' historic win in 1987.
South Koreans have won four of the last six US Women’s Opens beginning with So Yeon Ryu in 2011 and followed by Na Yeon Choi, Inbee Park and In Gee Chun.
Americans Michelle Wie and defending champion Brittany Lang were successful in 2014 and 2016 but, this year, So Yeon Ryu’s domination of the LPGA Tour suggests she could well add a second US Open and a third major having also won the ANA Inspiration earlier this year and add to Korea’s domination of the championship.
Ryu has an impressive record at the US Women’s Open having finished no worse than 11th in five starts since the win on her second appearance in 2011. Ryu leads the money list, the Race to the CME Globe and the Rolex World Rankings in 2017 having played some of the best golf of her life, which leaves her well placed to be in the thick of things this week.
World number two Ariya Jutanugarn withdrew from the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic last week citing a shoulder injury after what had been a horror first round and a missed cut at the Women's PGA. At her best, she would be one of the favourites to win this event, but given the cloud over her fitness, her prospects are uncertain.
Lexi Thompson has been in remarkable form this year especially since her horrific experience at the ANA Inspiration where she was penalised four shots during the final round for an infringement the previous day. That she was able to shake herself off and force her way into playoff was testament to her amazing resolve.
Thompson has since recorded a win and two runners-up and so must now be considered a favourite to atone for her near miss at Mission Hills.
In Gee Chun is a proven major champion, her only two LPGA wins came at majors including her amazing win on debut in this event in 2015.
Chun has been four times runner-up this season and although her last two starts have been a little below that level, she is such a big-event player that she should be thereabouts on Sunday.
Two-time winner Inbee Park, the youngest ever winner of the event when successful in 2008, is playing well enough again in 2017 to be a genuine contender. Only two finishes outside the top-20 including a win and four other top-10s in 12 starts this year suggests she is near where she needs to be to contend for a third US Women's Open title.
Another big event player is Amy Yang, who enjoys a good record in this and other majors. Yang has five top-five finishes and six top-10s in her last seven US Opens and, on that basis alone, she must be a serious threat to finally break through for that elusive major.
Yang was runner-up in Arkansas, and then at her last start, finished 4th at the Women’s PGA.
Wie might have won the event in 2014 but her overall record in the event is not good. The 27-year-old is however playing perhaps the best golf of her career with a series of top-10s finishes in recent starts. Her chances of a second major and a 5th LPGA Tour title appear very good.
28 countries are represented this week, and six Australians have made it into the field through various qualifying criteria namely Minjee Lee, last week’s winner, Katherine Kirk, Sarah Jane Smith, Su Oh, two-time winner Karrie Webb and Gold Coast amateur Robyn Choi, who qualified via Sectional Qualifying.
TWO-TIME US WOMEN'S OPEN CHAMPION INBEE PARK
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