Top Names to Watch at Pinehurst for the US Women's Open

Fred AltvaterContributor IIJune 16, 2014

Top Names to Watch at Pinehurst for the US Women's Open

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    Inbee Park won her third consecutive major championship at the 2013 U.S. Women's Open.
    Inbee Park won her third consecutive major championship at the 2013 U.S. Women's Open.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The best female golfers in the world will invade Pinehurst this week for the U.S. Women's Open.

    This is the first time the USGA has held the men's and women's opens in consecutive weeks on the same golf course.

    Inbee Park is the defending champion, but she has fallen to No. 2 in the world. She is heading to Pinehurst on the heels of her first win, the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Canada, since winning the 2013 U.S. Women's Open last June.

    All of the top names are in the field this week. Younger golfers are ready to challenge veterans for the trophy this time and take the USGA crown. 

So Yeon Ryu

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    So Yeon Ryu from South Korea won the 2011 U.S. Open.
    So Yeon Ryu from South Korea won the 2011 U.S. Open.Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    So Yeon Ryu won the 2011 U.S. Women's Open before she was a member of the LPGA Tour. 

    She has won two events on the LPGA Tour since and is one of the most consistent performers on tour.

    Ryu has six top-10 finishes in 2014 and has the all-around game to handle the difficult approach shots and greens at Pinehurst.

Paula Creamer

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    Paula Creamer won the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.
    Paula Creamer won the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.Mike Groll/Associated Press

    Paula Creamer has seen a resurgence in her golf game this season. 

    Her win in March at the HSBC Women's Champions was her first since hoisting the 2010 U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont.

    Creamer battled a hand injury but appears to be back to the form that has made her one of the most popular players on the LPGA Tour.

    In addition to her win this season, she has three top-10 finishes and is No. 10 in the Race to the CME Globe and No. 12 in the Rolex Rankings.

Karrie Webb

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    Karrie Webb won the U.S. Women's Open in both 2000 and 2001.
    Karrie Webb won the U.S. Women's Open in both 2000 and 2001.GERRY BROOME/Associated Press

    Most golfers only dream of winning a USGA championship. Karrie Webb won the U.S. Women's Open in consecutive years in 2000 and 2001.

    Webb at the age of 39 is the only player over the age of 30 to have a win on the LPGA Tour this year. 

    She not only has one win in 2014, she is one of only three women to have multiple wins.

    With seven career major championship wins, she has won every women's major except the Evian Championship, and that just became a major last year.

    Pinehurst may just require the experience of a veteran like Webb to win this week.

Suzann Pettersen

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    Suzann Pettersen won the 2013 Evian Championship.
    Suzann Pettersen won the 2013 Evian Championship.Laurent Cipriani/Associated Press

    Suzann Pettersen went on a tear last year. Along with Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park, she dominated the LPGA Tour.

    She had four wins and 15 top-10 finishes in 2013. She earned her second career major title at the Evian Championship and finished No. 2 on the LPGA Tour money list.

    A back injury slowed her down earlier this season, and she is just beginning to regain the form that got her to the No. 2 spot on the Rolex Rankings last year.

    She has the strength and the short game to win this week at Pinehurst.

     

Jessica Korda

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    Jessica Korda got to kiss the trophy at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.
    Jessica Korda got to kiss the trophy at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.Tim Aylen/Associated Press

    At just 21 years old, Jessica Korda has yet to win a major championship, but she has two LPGA wins this year.

    She won the first tournament of the year at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and added her second win at the Airbus LPGA Classic at the end of May.

    Her first career win came at the 2012 Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne. A course that is very comparable to Pinehurst No. 2.

    Korda is playing with a ton of confidence right now and has to be one of the favorites this week.

Inbee Park

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    Inbee Park won three consecutive majors in 2013.
    Inbee Park won three consecutive majors in 2013.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Inbee Park was the most dominant player in golf in 2013.

    In addition to winning the first three majors of the year, she won three regular tour events and overtook Stacy Lewis as the No. 1 player in the world.

    It is difficult to sustain that level of play for an entire season, and Park did not collect another win after her U.S. Women's Open win in June.

    Stacy Lewis overtook Park and regained the No. 1 ranking two weeks ago.

    Perhaps a good omen for Park was her first win of the year at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic last week.

    Can she be the first woman since Karrie Webb in 2000-01 to win consecutive U.S. Women's Opens?

Lexi Thompson

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    Lexi Thompson won the first major of 2014 at the Kraft Nabisco.
    Lexi Thompson won the first major of 2014 at the Kraft Nabisco.Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Lexi Thompson is still a teenager and is the only player in the field that can win the women's "grand slam."

    She won her first major championship at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in March.

    Thompson is one of the young players that has the game and confidence to compete in the majors.

    Her length off the tee and aggressive style of play always make her exciting to watch.

Lydia Ko

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    Lydia Ko won the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in April.
    Lydia Ko won the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in April.Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    Lydia Ko turned professional in October, 2013, but had two LPGA Tour wins before she joined the tour.

    She won her first event as a full tour member in April at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.

    In addition to her win, she has six top-10 finishes and with $628,000 in earnings is No. 6 in the Race to the CME Globe.

    Even though she is only 17 years old, she is a quiet assassin on the golf course and has every shot necessary to win at Pinehurst.

Michelle Wie

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    Michelle Wie won the Lotte LPGA Championship in April.
    Michelle Wie won the Lotte LPGA Championship in April.Eugene Tanner/Associated Press

    In 2003 at the age of 13, Michelle Wie became the youngest woman to make the cut in a U.S. Women's Open.

    So much was expected of her, and 11 years later she is beginning to fulfill those lofty goals.

    Wie's win at the Lotte LPGA Championship in April was her first in over three years.

    She has added eight top-10 finishes this year and is No. 2 in the Race to the CME Globe.

    Although her putting is still suspect and may cause her problems on the treacherous Pinehurst greens, she is one of the best ball-strikers on tour and should be a factor at the U.S. Women's Open this week. 

Stacy Lewis

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    Stacy Lewis won the 2013 Women's British Open.
    Stacy Lewis won the 2013 Women's British Open.Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    Stacy Lewis is a top-10 machine. She has 11 top-10 finishes this season and has finished inside the top 10 in 30 of her last 39 tournaments.

    She overtook Inbee Park for the No. 1 spot on the Rolex Rankings and is No. 1 in the Race to the CME Globe.

    Lewis has two major victories on her resume and will look for a third at the U.S. Women's Open.

    She does not have a weak spot in her game and will probably be in the mix on Sunday at Pinehurst.