LPGA: 10 Players to Keep an Eye on at the 2012 Ricoh Women's British Open
The 2012 Ricoh Women's British Open is about to start and with it, the last chance for the players to secure a major title.
The spotlight will be on Yani Tseng. The best player in the world will try to become the first ever three-time winner of the event; the feat won't be easy.
Additionally, some youngsters like Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko will try to surprise her. Others, like Paula Creamer and Jiyai Shin come from hot finishes at the Kingsmill Championship.
This event has become a favorite for the players, media and tour executives, and today they were all particularly happy; the title sponsor announced an extension agreement until at least 2016.
So without further ado, let's find out which golfers have a real chance to win at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club—the same course where Tiger Woods captured his third Open Championship.
Na Yeon Choi
If you had to pick a word to describe her, trust me, it has to be "consistent". Na Yeon Choi has three top-10 finishes in the past three editions of the Women's British Open.
NYC won this year's U.S. Women's Open in the same course where Se Ri Pak became the first South Korean to lift that trophy.
This season, Choi has six top-10 finishes in 16 starts, hasn't missed a cut and has earned $1.1 million.
After 26 months, Paula Creamer's game seems close to what it used to be in 2010 when she won the U.S. Women's Open.
The Pink Panther comes from playing the longest playoff in tour's history. She battled with Jiyai Shin for eight holes before losing to the South Korean in the ninth.
Creamer was very close to ending her two-year winless drought but is confident that she can turn things around this week, especially because of the weather conditions.
"This course sets up incredibly well for me," Creamer said. "I hope it stays this windy and this hard. I like that. I truly like the challenge."
The youngest player to win an LPGA tournament is ready to take over Royal Liverpool Golf Club. Lydia Ko lifted the star-studded CN Canadian Women's Open last month.
Aged 15, Ko is still an amateur golfer, but is no stranger to professional events. In January she became the youngest player to win a pro tourney, at the Bing Lee/Samsung Women's NSW Open (ALPG Tour).
Ko received a sponsor invite to play this major.
Stacy Lewis is a 27-year-old from Ohio and the only American player inside the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings; she sits second.
She has had a great season: She has 12 top-10 finishes in 18 starts, including two victories at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the Shoprite LPGA Classic.
Lewis leads Yani Tseng by 20 points in the Player of the Year race. If she keeps it, she will become the first American to receive the award since Beth Daniel grabbed it in 1994.
Her game has been consistent and stats don't lie. She's second in greens in regulation, putts per GIR, scoring average and rounds in the 60s, and first in birdies and eagles.
You can never underestimate Catriona Matthew. She has been playing professional golf since 1995 and has already won this event.
Matthew is one of the best players when it comes to links and there's no wonder why—she's from Scotland. Catriona secured the 2009 edition and finished tied for fifth last year.
She plays in the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour and has been a key player for Europe in the Solheim Cup.
Her best moments come thanks to the putter—when this lady starts sinking putts there's no one who can stop her.
You probably haven't heard much from her but Inbee Park currently leads the tour's money list. The 24-year-old has earned $1.4 million this season.
She has also secured one title in the LPGA (Evian Masters) and another in the Japan LPGA (Fundokin Ladies).
Park has an excellent record in major championships. From 2010 to date, the South Korean has played all the Grand Slams—that's a total of 11—hasn't missed a cut and has finished inside the top 10 eight times.
In 2008 she grabbed her first major title at the U.S. Women's Open.
So Yeon Ryu
When So Yeon Ryu came to the LPGA she had already won seven professional titles in the Korean LPGA.
Ryu played the 2011 U.S. Women's Open in style. She birdied the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Hee Kyung Seo; So Yeon defeated her in a three-hole playoff.
Now, the South Korean is playing her first full season in the LPGA and has proven to be consistent. A month ago she won the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic by seven strokes.
This will be her first time in the Women's British Open, but her magnificent short game—second in birdies and third in putts per GIR—sets her as a true contender.
The South Korean waited 22 months to lift another trophy. She won last week's Kingsmill Championship and comes to the Women's British Open in great shape.
Shin has already won this major championship. Back in 2008, the final-round queen shot 13 under to become the first non-member to secure a Grand Slam since Laura Davies did so in 1987.
Jiyai is not one of the longest hitters on tour—she is 125th in that department—but is third in driving accuracy, 11th in putts per GIR and second in top 10 finishes.
Alexis Thompson earned a spot in the tour after winning the Navistar LPGA Classic in 2011. Lexi had to petition commissioner Michael Whan for membership, as she wasn't 18 years old.
Now, Thompson is ready to play in her first Women's British Open and secure her first victory of the season.
Her best result so far has been a runner-up finish at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, where she shot 16 under, one stroke behind Stacy Lewis.
The defending champion missed the Kingsmill Championship and instead played the Suzann Pettersen Pro Challenge along with the host, Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam.
Yani Tseng has accustomed fans and media to sublime performances, so it's only natural to think something is wrong since she has missed three cuts in her last five events.
The world No. 1 knows that the trophies will come, and having the chance to become the first-ever three-time winner of the event is a great lure.
"When you have a couple bad weeks, people start asking what's wrong with you. But there's nothing wrong. Golf is not that easy and you cannot win every week... I think it's my turn to start playing well again," she said.
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