US Women’s Open Preview 2021
LPGA TOUR HEADS TO SAN FRANCISCO FOR 2021 U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN
For the first time in its illustrious history, The Olympic Club in San Francisco will host the world’s best female golfers as they compete at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, conducted by the United States Golf Association. The field of 156 players will battle for a $5.5 million purse, the largest purse in women’s golf history, and one player will earn the coveted title of U.S. Women’s Open champion.
At the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open, A Lim Kim won her first major championship, becoming the seventh player since 2005 to earn her first LPGA Tour victory in the U.S. Women’s Open. She took a one-stroke victory over Jin Young Ko and Amy Olson at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, a championship that was delayed nearly six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kim, who earned LPGA Tour Membership thanks to her victory, is in San Francisco to defend her title, along with 12 other past U.S. Women’s Open champions – Na Yeon Choi (2012), In Gee Chun (2015), Paula Creamer (2010), Eun Hee Ji (2009), Ariya Jutanugarn (2018), Cristie Kerr (2007), Brittany Lang (2016), Jeongeun Lee6 (2019), Inbee Park (2008, 2013), Sung Hyun Park (2017), So Yeon Ryu (2011) and Michelle Wie West (2014). The field also includes all 11 LPGA Tour winners in 2021, including last week’s champion Ally Ewing.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN
- This is the 76th playing of the U.S. Women’s Open
- This is the fourth U.S. Women’s Open to be held in California, following 1964 at San Diego Country Club (winner Mickey Wright), 1982 at Del Paso Country Club (winner Janet Alex) and 2016 at CordeValle (winner Brittany Lang)
- This is the first major women’s event to be held at The Olympic Club, which has previously hosted five U.S. Opens
- The last player to successfully defend her title is Karrie Webb, who won in 2000 and 2001
- The youngest winner of the U.S. Women’s Open is Inbee Park, who won the 2008 championship at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days
- Babe Didrikson Zaharias is the oldest winner, taking the 1954 U.S. Women’s Open at 43 years and 7 days
- Betsy Rawls and Mickey Wright hold the record for most US Women’s Open Wins. Rawls won in 1951, 1953, 1957 and1960. Wright won in 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1964
- The 2022 U.S. Women’s Open will be held at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., followed by the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links
JESSICA AND NELLY KORDA READY FOR MAJOR TEST AT OLYMPIC
In the five U.S. Opens conducted on the Lake Course at The Olympic Club, only four players have finished 72 holes with an under-par score. That was Jessica Korda’s biggest takeaway from her research on the famed layout that is hosting its first U.S. Women’s Open this week – this is going to be one of the most difficult major championships ever contested. And she’s more than ready for the challenge.
“There’s no first cut out here. The rough is high. Greens are really small. So, yeah, it’s going to be a difficult test,” said Jessica Korda, who is competing in her 14th consecutive U.S. Women’s Open. “But I’m really excited about it because this is exactly what a U.S. Open, in my head, always is supposed to look like.”
Korda has played both practice rounds so far with her younger sister Nelly Korda¸ and the duo will be joined by 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu for Thursday and Friday’s first two rounds. As usual, their parents, Petr and Regina Korda, will be following closely from outside the ropes, but for the first time in a major week, they won’t have to walk 36 holes to see their girls compete for their national title.
“We do feed off each other, but at the end of the day like if I’m struggling, she’s right there,” said Nelly Korda. “I can lean on her and vice versa.”
Jessica and Nelly also aren’t the only Kordas competing for a major title this week. Younger brother Sebastian Korda won his first ATP Tour tennis title last week at the Emilia-Romagna Open and is competing at the French Open having reached No. 50 in the world rankings. There is even a distinct possibility that all three Korda siblings could represent the United States at the Olympics this summer.
If there’s a genetic jackpot, the Korda family hit it. And to their great credit, they have all learned how to manage the expectations that come with such skill.
“It’s definitely a number-one goal of ours to contend in majors and to eventually lift a trophy, but it’s all about preparation,” Nelly said. “It’s all about the mindset going into the week and not putting so much pressure on yourself, because I feel like when you put so much pressure on that one event, you kind of lose like the joy of actually being able to play an amazing golf course and just having fun. Because that is the most important thing, is just having fun and having a good time out there. I think good golf will always solve the issues.”
ALLY EWING PREPARES FOR MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP GRIND AFTER VICTORY IN THE DESERT
That’s how many holes Ally Ewing had played through five days at the inaugural Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek. Ewing, who had lost her opening group-play match to Leona Maguire, 2 and 1, went on to best four more players, reaching the final match against major champion Sophia Popov. On her first wedding anniversary and with her husband Charlie by the rope line, Ewing picked up her second LPGA Tour title at Shadow Creek among the sunset along the Las Vegas desert.
After celebrations – which included a boat ride around the Bellagio fountains – Ewing’s mind immediately turned to the U.S. Women’s Open this week. That, and the rest needed to prepare for the second major championship of the season.
“Obviously a busy week last week. Yesterday I probably shouldn’t have been out here at all, but I still managed to just walk nine holes and just take a look. I didn’t hit any full shots or anything like that. Moved my tee time to this afternoon instead of the morning, so some adjustments,” said Ewing, who flew into San Francisco Monday on an MGM Resorts corporate jet with Popov, Alison Lee, Anna Nordqvist and Danielle Kang. “I think, for me personally, this week’s going to be important to make sure I’m well rested by Thursday rather than maybe necessarily seeing the course as many times as I normally do prior to a U.S. Open.”
Charlie also followed his wife to San Francisco but won’t be following his wife too closely. The head coach for the Mississippi State women’s golf team, Charlie will be on the bag for Abbey Daniel, a member of his team. “Really fun to have a Mississippi State player in the field, so it will be a fun week,” said Ewing.
This is Ewing’s sixth U.S. Women’s Open; her best performance at the major championship is T10 in 2019 at the Country Club of Charleston. She’s the only Mississippi native in the field this week, and now ranked No. 15 in the world, Ewing is one of the top 21 players from the Rolex Rankings competing at The Olympic Club. To Ewing, this is week will be a grind, but one she’s prepared to endure if it means becoming a part of major championship history.
“U.S. Open is every year it’s just the premier event for me. It’s our national championship, so I always have a very excited feel at a U.S. Open. Certainly coming off a victory, I’ve never experienced that at a U.S. Open before. A long week before that,” said Ewing. “Monday to Wednesday at a U.S. Open is normally very full with preparation. This year I’m taking it a little bit differently because I think, for me, like I said, it’s just going to be more important to be rested by Thursday.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE FOR TWO-TIME USWO CHAMPION INBEE PARK
The Queen Bee is back at the U.S. Women’s Open. The 2008 and 2013 champion Inbee Park is making her 15th overall and 14th consecutive start at the major championship. She’s one of 13 past winners in the field, and one of 27 USGA champions competing at the famed Olympic Club, which is hosting its first U.S. Women’s Open. Park has an unbelievable record in the major; since 2007, she’s recorded seven top-10 finishes along with her two wins and agreed her game shines when under the pressure as she gears up for the challenge of Olympic.
“I think it’s just my game really suits the tough golf courses, and probably I’m pretty calm on the golf course too. Whatever happens on the golf course, I kind of manage myself to stay calm no matter what happens,” said Park. “This golf course definitely needs some patience. The course is going to play tough. It’s going to be windy, cold, and we’re going to have to hit some fairways on this golf course. Otherwise, you don’t have much shot.”
When Park won in 2008 at Interlachen Country Club, she became the youngest to ever win a U.S. Women’s Open, a record that continues to stand. It was the first of her 21 victories on the LPGA Tour, along with the first of seven major titles. Now an LPGA Hall of Fame member, Park knows she’s changed as a person and player since her first appearance in the major in 2004. In Monday’s practice round, Park played with Tsubasa Kajitani, the 17-year-old winner of the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and reflected upon the experience beside the Japanese teen.
“I think since my first U.S. Open, I think it’s a lot of things has changed. My first U.S. Open, I was an amateur, so I had nothing to be afraid of. I played just a practice round with Japanese girl amateur, I think, and really reminded me of my first U.S. Open. She just looked nothing to be scared of on this golf course and just bombing the balls. I kind of envy that, and I don’t think I’ll be able to ever do that again,” said Park. “I’m definitely a different player than I was 15 years ago. A lot more mature, a lot more calm on the golf course. Probably I don’t really get surprised with a lot of things on the golf course anymore.”
MICHELLE WIE WEST BACK IN MAJOR FORM
The last time Michelle Wie West teed it up at the U.S. Women’s Open, she tied for 10th at Shoal Creek in 2018. The last time she teed it up at a major, she went 84-82 at the 2919 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine National, clutching an injured wrist and tearfully saying she was worried she would never play again.
Fast forward to June 1, 2021. Wie West has rehabbed the injury, gotten married, moved to San Francisco, added TV announcer to her professional resume, given birth, been voted onto the LPGA Board of Directors, joined the Solheim Cup team as an assistant captain, spearheaded the Tour’s #HoodieForGolf campaign and returned to competitive play. Just a casual comeback for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion.
“It’s a really cool feeling being here. I guess just staying at my house these two weeks is pretty nice. I’ve never had that happen before at a major tournament,” said Wie West. “Hazeltine was an amazing venue. It was just a shame, that whole week was clouded. I wasn’t even thinking straight. I just couldn’t even see straight at that point. Being here at Olympic Club at another amazing venue, it’s really fun. It’s really amazing to be back. It’s an honor.”
The Olympic Club is dotted with cotton-candy tie-dyed LPGA hoodies, with players, staff and fans celebrating the LPGA and Wie West’s initiative that raises funds for the Renee Powell Grant and the Clearview Legacy Foundation. From her friends Steph Curry and Justin Thomas to tiny LPGA*USGA Girls Golf members, Wie West has been astounded by the impact the hoodie is already making.
“It’s been really, really amazing the support, and people wearing it, tagging me on Instagram,” said Wie West. “It just makes my day seeing the different types of people wearing it and kids wearing it and people that you don’t expect to wear it.”
2021 RACE TO THE CME GLOBE UPDATE
The season-long Race to the CME Globe continues with this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, a major championship where points carry 30% more value. With a win at last week’s Bank of Hope Match-Play Hosted by Shadow Creek, Ally Ewing jumped from 25th to sixth with 924.5 points. Nelly Korda sits atop the standings with 1,563 points, followed by Lydia Ko (1,529 points), Patty Tavatanakit (1,457 points), Inbee Park (1,315 points) and Jessica Korda (1,197 points).
The Race to the CME Globe is a season-long points competition which LPGA Tour Members accumulate points in every official LPGA tournament to gain entry into the season-ending tournament, CME Group Tour Championship. The player who wins the CME Group Tour Championship is named the “Race to the CME Globe Champion.”
Beginning in 2019, players started earning points at each official LPGA Tour event throughout the season leading up to the CME Group Tour Championship. The top-60 points earners and ties then earn a spot in the CME Group Tour Championship with the entire field competing for a $5 million purse highlighted by a $1.5 million winner’s check, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.
156 players; 72 holes, stroke play, cut to top 60 and ties after 36 holes
SOCIAL MEDIA: #DRIVEON
Championship: @uswomensopen, @usga (Twitter and Instagram); #USWomensOpen, #WomenWorthWatching
LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)
TV TIMES (all times Eastern)
|Thursday, June 3||5-7 p.m.||Round 1||Peacock|
|Thursday, June 3||7-11 p.m.||Round 1||Golf Channel|
|Friday, June 4||5-7 p.m.||Round 2||Peacock|
|Friday, June 4||7-11 p.m.||Round 2||Golf Channel|
|Saturday, June 5||2-5 p.m.||Round 3||NBC|
|Saturday, June 5||5-10 p.m.||Round 3||Golf Channel|
|Sunday, June 6||1-3 p.m.||Round 4||Peacock|
|Sunday, June 6||3-7 p.m.||Round 4||NBC|
TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS
- 18 holes: 63, Helen Alfredsson, first round, 1994
- 36 holes: 132, Helen Alfredsson, 1994
- 54 holes: 201, Juli Inkster, 1999
- 72 holes: 272, Annika Sorenstam, 1996; Juli Inkster, 1999; In Gee Chun, 2015
The US Women’s Open Preview is via LPGA