US Women's Open 2012: Lexi Thompson and 6 Players That Will Contend

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2012

US Women's Open 2012: Lexi Thompson and 6 Players That Will Contend

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    The first round of the U.S. Women's Open is underway and there are several players you can't miss. From world No. 1 Yani Tseng, to the youngest ever LPGA winner Lexi Thompson.

    The field includes 156 players—17 of the top 20 players of the Rolex Rankings—that will compete for the first-place check of $585,000.

    Here are six players that will have a chance to engrave their names in the prestigious trophy, so follow the closely.

Ai Miyazato

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    She's the most recent LPGA winner. Ai Miyazato hoisted the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship trophy last weekend after posting a last round of 65, five-under par.

    Miyazato has won nine times in the LPGA and 15 in the LPGA of Japan Tour. She is third in the Rolex rankings and leads the tour in the Vare Trophy race—lowest average score—at 69.94.

    Despite being a short player from the tee, this Japanese knows how to control her wedges and irons, and has a mean game on the green, which sets her as a top contender.

Azahara Muñoz

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    Olé! This 24-year-old Spaniard has had an amazing season so far. She became a first-time winner two months ago at the Sybase Match Play Championship, where she defeated: Lindsey Wright, Karrie Webb, Jodi Ewart, Stacy Lewis, Morgan Pressel and Candie Kung.

    Muñoz has four top-five finishes in her last seven events, including her victory in May and two second places. She has secured $899,326 in earnings this season.

Lexi Thompson

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    She's the youngest winner in the LPGA history. Alexis Thompson—or simply Lexi as everyone knows her—decided to turn professional at 15 years old. Her decision to do so at such a young age didn't stand in her way to succeed. 

    Lexi played several LPGA events before joining the tour, in 2012. Her results were outstanding, with a tie for 10th at the U.S. Women's Open and a runner-up finish at the Evian Masters.

    In August 2011, she won the Navistar LPGA Classic by five strokes, which gave her grounds to petition the LPGA for full-membership, despite being under 18; commissioner Mike Whan granted the waiver.

    This season, Thompson has played 11 tournaments and has posted two top-10 finishes. She's one of the longest hitters on tour with an average driving distance of 274 yards.

Na Yeon Choi

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    The South Korean golfer lacks a major, but not the game. Na Yeon Choi has a clear shot of winning the U.S. Women's Open and has at least one LPGA title in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

    Despite her accuracy off the tee and her flawless short game, Choi has yet to conquer a major championship. She has competed in 19 tournaments of this sort and posted eight top-10 finishes.

    In 2012, NYC has played nine events and was close to winning the HSBC Women's Champions, but lost in the second hole of playoff.

Stacy Lewis

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    The best American golfer is ready to claim her second major title. Stacy Lewis won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2011, which was also her first official LPGA victory.

    Lewis was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11, and when she was at college she underwent surgery to correct some of the problems. This included putting a titanium rod and five screws in her back.

    This season, Stacy has won two times, posted nine top-10 finishes, earned $929,209 and climbed to second in the Rolex Rankings.

Yani Tseng

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    She's the best golfer in the planet. Yani Tseng needs no introduction when it comes to seeking a title. The Taiwanese player has an eight-point advantage over Stacy Lewis in the Rolex Rankings.

    She has won 15 times since she joined the LPGA in 2008 and is the youngest ever golfer, male or female, to win five majors.

    This week she has a shot to become the youngest to complete the career Grand Slam. Tiger Woods holds the record as he accomplished the feat at age 24; Tseng is 23.