The LPGA season is about to enter the most exciting period of the year. The first tournament of the summer swing is the U.S. Women's Open, the third major of the tour's schedule.
This is the toughest tournament of the year. For starters, the rough is higher, and the greens are faster. Add some trees and narrow fairways and the players pushing themselves to the limit. Whoever wants to win this must bring her A game.
Yani Tseng, Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer are some of the golfers expected to succeed this week, despite the tough conditions.
With all the drama about to start, here's a complete guide to the tournament.
In 1998, Se Ri Pal from South Korea won the U.S. Women's Open held in Blackwolf Run. Fourteen years later, the tournament is back in Kohler, Wisconsin.
The course for the 67th edition is a 6,954-yard par 72, at an elevation of 650 feet above sea level. The sand of the bunkers was replaced, and the tees, fairways and greens were re-seeded with bentgrass.
The event will take place in the Original Championship Course, which consists of holes 10-18 of the Meadow Valleys course and holes 1-4 and 14-18 of the River.
You can find a complete course map here.
The winner of this event takes home 3.250 million dollars. The U.S. Women's Open and the Evian Masters are the most profitable tournaments on the LPGA.
Aside from the money, the champion gets to see her name engraved with those of Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright, JoAnneCarner, Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam, to name a few.
There's a lot going on in the LPGA these days. Last week, Yani Tseng missed the cut for the first time in 26 tournaments. Stacy Lewis, who has won twice this season, is chasing world No. 1 closely.
Other players to keep an eye on are Cristie Kerr, who has finished inside the top 20 in the last five editions, and Ai Miyazato, who won last week's Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, her second LPGA title of the year.
Keep an eye on Suzann Pettersen, who's yet to win in 2012 and has finished no worse than tied for 16th on the last three years.
In the last few years, the U.S. Women's Open has characterized by unexpected winners, especially from Asia. The clearest case is Birdie Kim, who sank her bunker shot for birdie on the 72nd hole, enough to claim the trophy.
In 2009, Eun-Hee Ji shot par in the final round to surpass Cristie Kerr, who shot four-over par. Two years later, Hee Kyung Seo and So Yeon Ryu went into a playoff, the first one since 2006, when Annika Sorenstam defeated Pat Hurst.
This year, you should keep an eye on China's Shanshan Feng, who became a first-time winner in the tour's second major, the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
Sun Young Yoo has posted seven top-10 finishes in 12 appearances and sits fifth in the Player of the Year race.
The action starts this Thursday, and the most interesting groups for Round 1 include:
|8:06 a.m.||10||Eun-Hee Ji, Paula Creamer & So Yeon Ryu|
|8:17 a.m.||1||Azahara Munoz, Angela Stanford & I.K. Kim|
|8:28 a.m.||10||Ai Miyazato, Morgan Pressel & Shanshan Feng|
|1:36 p.m.||1||Inbee Park, Mika Miyazato & Jessica Korda|
|1:47 p.m.||1||Jihee Lee, Michelle Wie & Brittany Lang|
|1:58 p.m.||1||Yani Tseng, Na Yeon Choi & Suzann Pettersen|
|1:58 p.m.||10||Stacy Lewis, Cristie Kerr & Sun Young Yoo|
You can find the complete list here.
The NBC and ESPN will air the U.S. Women's Open as follows:
|Thursday, July 5||ESPN 2||4:00 to8:00 p.m.|
|Friday, July 6||ESPN 2||
|Saturday, July 7||NBC||3:00-6:00 p.m.|
|Sunday, July 8||NBC||3:00-6:00 p.m.|
If you want to catch the event online, you must tune ESPN3, which will livestream the first two rounds, also from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. EDT.