US Women's Open 2012: 8 Stars to Watch

Ron Juckett@ronjuckettContributor IIIJuly 5, 2012

US Women's Open 2012: 8 Stars to Watch

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    The best women’s golfers on the planet are converging in Wisconsin for the 67th United States Open this weekend.

    This is the second time that Blackwolf Run has hosted the Open, the last time being in 1998.

    At 6954 yards, this is the longest course in the major championship rotation this year. In fact, the course is actually longer than next year’s men’s Open layout at Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia by nearly 100 yards.

    While not usually as stern of a test as the men’s Open, the length of this course will keep scoring at a premium and thoroughly examine both the physical and mental aspects of all 156 women playing.

    The major storyline of the weekend focuses on Yani Tseng and her quest to complete the career grand slam. Tseng, 23, has five majors already on her resume including the Kraft Nabisco, LPGA Championship and Women’s British. Her five is the most, regardless of gender, of anyone that young of all-time.

    Fan favorite Michelle Wie is ready to focus on her game again full time, while Stacy Lewis is the highest ranked American player in the world.

    Here is a quick look at how the biggest stars of the LPGA should do in golf’s toughest test.

Yani Tseng

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    It is hard to say that anyone that has won three times on tour this year could possibly in a slump, but Tseng’s last top-five finish was at the Kraft Nabisco in March.

    Tseng had a tie for 59th at the Wegman’s LPGA Championship and missed the cut last week at the tour stop in Arkansas.

    Yet she is the best player in the world and with the chance to make history come Sunday night, she will be ready.

    She is fifth in driving distance but 141st in accuracy. She cannot be wild off the tee if she wants to win. Her putting is okay, but not lights out this year.

    If she finds fairways, she has a really good shot come Sunday.

Stacy Lewis

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    The world No. 2 player has had a tremendous season so far.

    Besides two wins Stateside, Lewis has two top five finishes in both majors this year.

    The 2011 Kraft Nabisco champion should definitely be on the prowl for her second career major.

    While not super-long off the tee, she finds fairways and greens and putts very well. She has the game here to win. She is in the top 20 in driving length and is top five in finding greens.

    Patience is going to be the key. She needs to stay relaxed and let her game come to her.

Ai Myazato

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    She’s coming off a win last week in Arkansas, usually the kiss of death for any golfer coming into a major, and has another win in the States this year.

    At 5’2", Miyazato is short off the tee, but extremely accurate. She may be the game’s best putter at the moment, getting around at 28.36 putts per round.

    If she can use her longer irons to find her spots on the greens, the world No. 3 could easily win here despite her lack of length.

    While never winning a major before, she has nine career wins and tied for sixth at last year’s Open.

Shanshan Feng

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    Shanshan became the first ever player from mainland China to win a golf major, either men’s or women’s, when she won the Wegman’s LPGA Championship this spring.

    With three top-five finishes on the tour’s Asian swing, Feng broke through for her first ever win being a major.

    She is top 10 in greens in regulation, a must for winning the Open. She is in the top 30 in length and putting, and is 38th in accuracy.

    With a major under her belt this year, it remains to be seen just how she will handle the pressure of expectations that she now has.

    Her strength is hitting greens, something she must do win.

Suzann Pettersen

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    It has not been a good year for the former world No. 2.

    Without a win so far, Europe’s best player has not been out of the top 30 in any stroke play event this year, but only has one top-five finish.

    Pettersen is long off the tee but not very accurate and is not putting all that well. These are two things she will need to improve on in a hurry if she hopes to break through this weekend.

    Her iron play is her friend as she is sixth in greens in regulation and is second in birdies made.

    If she does not press and not shoot herself out of it going into Saturday, she can string together two good rounds and win.

Michelle Wie

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    It would be fair to say that golf has not been first and foremost on Wie’s radar.

    The recent Stanford graduate has won just $19,013 in prize money this year in 10 events.

    Yet it is that degree that has kept her focus in the classroom and not on the course for the biggest teen phenom in golf history.

    What Wie has done well this year is bomb her drives. What she has not done well is everything else.

    We know she has the game to win on tour and, if she does play well the first two days, it would not be a huge surprise if she had a chance come Sunday.

    She has to improve on finding just half the fairways and putt a shot per round better. Averaging 31.94 per round will not win anything.

Lexi Thompson

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    At 17, this soon-to-be household name is having a great rookie campaign.

    Best known for taking a soldier as her prom date, Thompson is long, long off the tee and is fifth in greens in regulation.

    Putting, on the other hand, seems to be a skill she is not all that comfortable with yet as she is averaging more than 31 putts per round.

    She has only missed one cut after turning pro to start the year and has two top 30s in majors this year.

    Her length will really help her this week, but her experience and tentative putting will go against her. She is a star in making, but probably not this week.

Paula Creamer

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    Creamer’s game is coming together at the right time for her to make a run this weekend.

    While not winning and only having two top-10 finishes so far, she did have a top-10 finish at the Wegman’s LPGA and is one of golf’s better iron strikers.

    Accurate off the tee while not really long, it is the putter that will decide Creamer’s fate. She is averaging 30.26 per round, which is just middle of the pack once she is on the green.

    Known best for using a pink ball, Creamer has nine wins in her career and, with a hot putter, could win her second Open in three years.