The 2015 U.S. Women's Open hasn't even commenced, and yet some intriguing storylines have already emerged from the Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Defending champion Michelle Wie was in control of the tournament last year at Pinehurst No. 2; however, she's struggled to duplicate her success on the LPGA Tour since. Due to a nagging hip injury—one that has plagued her for years but has worsened recently—Wie has missed five cuts and withdrawn from three tournaments in her last 24 starts. In an effort to overcome the injury, she has attempted to revamp her swing.
Wie has calmed her swing down lately, decreasing the width in her stance to reduce the vicious torque through the ball. She spoke of how the changes have felt during an interview with Ryan Ballengee of Yahoo Sports, saying, "Just with everything in general, I'm feeling healthier and healthier. My hip felt better in Arkansas than it has been the pass couple of weeks. And I think I'm taking it day-by-day and taking it slowly."
Although, Wie hasn't been the only U.S. Open participant in the news of late. According to Ron Sirak of Golf Digest, two-time 2015 LPGA Tour winner Sei Young Kim will have to navigate Lancaster Country Club without her caddie after he was caught taking pictures of hole locations with his cell phone—a breach of USGA sanctions.
So, as we anxiously await to see how this year's U.S. Open ultimately unfolds, let's take a look at the tournament's essential viewing information, prize money and some notable Thursday tee times.
2015 Women's U.S. Open
Dates: Thursday, July 9 - Sunday, July 12
Where: Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Purse: $4 million
Race to CME Globe: 625 to winner
- Thursday and Friday: 2-7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
- Saturday and Sunday: 2:30-6:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Live Stream: USGA.org
Notable Thursday Tee Times
Full tournament tee times can be viewed at USGA.org.
Stars to Watch
Inbee Park will be aiming to retain her No. 1 world ranking this week at the Lancaster Country Club. She's been on a tear this year, emerging victorious in the HSBC Women's Champions, North Texas Shootout and KPMG Women's PGA Championship along with another five top-10 finishes since February.
While Park has been playing extremely well of late, her status as the world's No. 1 golfer is in jeopardy this week in the U.S. Women's Championship. Lydia Ko remains a threat to unseat Park if the results go her way. In order for the two to switch positions in the world standings, Ko will need to win and hope Park finishes tied for seventh or worse—a result that isn't too far-fetched.
Ko has been phenomenal this year as well, winning both the Australian Women's Open and the LPGA Classic while gaining another eight top-10 finishes. However, she didn't exactly fare well in her last major appearance, failing to make the cut in the Women's PGA Championship. Failing to play this weekend could result in losing her second-place ranking to Stacy Lewis.
Lewis hasn't notched a victory this year, but she's been knocking on the door for quite some time now. She has three runner-up finishes—one in the LPGA Thailand, one in the Founders Cup and one in the ANA Inspiration—this year and has plenty of other close calls. She's coming off of a tie for third in the Arkansas Championship and will be looking to ride her momentum to a major victory.
After those three players, there is a huge drop in the rankings; however, if someone is to start surging up the standings, it's Wie. Sure, she's a complete dark horse in this tournament due to the fact she hasn't even notched a top-10 finish this season—her best result came in a tie for 11th in the LOTTE Championship. Still, let's not underestimate the American.
Wie has been practicing nonstop with coach David Leadbetter in an effort to gain a narrower stance to reduce the amount of torque in her swing. You can take a look at Wie practicing with a giant elastic band around her legs courtesy of Luke Kerr-Dineen of USA Today.
If she can harness the resistance that drill is attempting to build in her swing, she'll begin to hit the ball a very long way without much discomfort at all. That's a very big deal considering the Lancaster Country Club is a course that can be susceptible to long-ball hitters due to its dramatic elevation changes that make the greens of longer holes more accessible.
Will Wie rise up the rankings with her first win of the year, or will we see Park and Ko duke it out Sunday in a battle for the world's top ranking? We'll learn the answer to those inquiries after what promises to be a compelling 72 holes of golf in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.