Kohler, WI (July 4, 2012)-The 67th U.S. Women’s Open begins tomorrow in Kohler, WI at the famed Blackwolf Run championship course. The LPGA last saw this course in 1998 when Se Ri Pak burst onto the scene as a young player from South Korea and won this event as a rookie. The third major of the year will feature a course that will play close to 7,000 yards as the field of 156 players vies for a $3.25 million purse. The win for Pak kick started what has become a Hall of Fame career and opened the floodgates for young Korean golfers. Pak is in the field this week after returning to the tour a few weeks ago. She missed several weeks due to a shoulder injury and had to withdraw last week in Arkansas due to illness.
*After a rare missed cut at the Manulife LPGA Classic Ai Miyazato was quick to get back on track with a victory last weekend at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. With a 6- under 65 on Sunday afternoon, Miyazato came from behind for her second win of 2012. It was Miyazato’s 9th LPGA title and has propelled her to 3rd in the Rolex World Rankings. Besides the missed cut in Canada, Miyazato has only finished out of the top ten twice this season. The only thing missing from this Japanese player’s mantel: a major championship. Though such a long course as Blackwolf Run may not favor the short hitter, her accuracy and putting ability should keep her in the hunt come Sunday.
*Rookie Veronica Felibert grabbed a lot of attention in Arkansas as she nearly won in only her fifth LPGA start. Opening with a 65 and 66, Felibert had a disappointing 1+ 72 on Sunday to leave her 4T. After graduating from USC Felibert spent time on the Symetra tour for two years before earning her LPGA card. Although she didn’t win last Sunday, Felibert saw a huge bump in her world rankings moving up from 723 to 253.
*Juli Inkster rejoined the tour last weekend in Arkansas though she failed to make the cut in the 54-hole event. After a rough first day where she finished 7 over, Inkster was able to pull together a good second round shooting 1 under par. For Inkster it was her first tournament of the season after missing the first half due to elbow surgery. It will be the veteran’s 33rd U.S. Open.
*Michelle Wie’s struggles continued as she failed to make yet another cut. After managing to make the weekend at the Manulife LPGA Classic, Wie finished 68T. In Arkansas however Wie failed to break par and missed her sixth cut of the season. Wie however is continuing to try to remain positive as the third major of the year is set to begin this week. She spoke in an interview earlier in the week:
“It’s been one of those tough kind of years. But I see it as an opportunity. When you’re playing this bad, it can really define who you are. I want to become someone that gets through it and becomes a stronger person because of it. And I’m trying really hard. I’m practicing really hard. And the more ?? I feel like the longer this has become, the more I want it. So I think this is a good week to turn things around, and I’m just going to prove to myself that I can do it.”
Although her score average sits at 75 and just playing consistently should be her primary goal, the U.S. Women’s Open sets up well for the long hitter should she get her putting on track.
*For Yani Tseng a win this week would be more than just adding onto the five major titles that she already owns. A win on Sunday would give her the career Grand Slam. At the beginning of the year Tseng looked to be a lock to pick up a few majors. With three wins and eight top ten finishes the No. 1 ranked player seemed to be adding onto what was a phenomenal 2011. The past few weeks though have been quite mediocre however for the Taiwanese player. She tied for 59th at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and missed the cut last week in Arkansas.
“It’s more about the mental things,” Tseng said this week during an interview. “Because my coach Gary Gilchrist was here with me [these past] couple of weeks. He said even my swing now can win in the tournament. So it must be mental. Because sometimes when I start on the tee I still worry about if my ball is going to hit right or left. But I feel good this week, actually. I feel very good. I feel very peaceful, and thankful for playing the Open. There’s so many I can achieve. The past year how much I’ve done to winning many tournaments and winning lots of things, I’m very thankful for this.”
If Tseng can get her mental focus and her swing centered this weekend she may finally claim that U.S. Women’s Open title that has eluded her.
*Five years ago Dottie Pepper made what she thought was an off-air comment that she has been regretting ever since. It was during the 2007 Solheim Cup when the U.S. team was struggling to put away a match on Saturday afternoon that Pepper was heard calling the team “choking freaking dogs!”. Pepper received a lot of flack over the past few years and it has been speculated that the two-time major championship winner may never be a part of any future teams. That changed this week when Meg Mallon, captain of the 2013 team named Pepper her top assistant. In a press conference on site of the U.S. Women’s Open in Kohler, WI, Mallon made the announcement with a very emotional Pepper.
“I’m thrilled to be able to reconnect with the players (and) reconnect with the LPGA in an event that obviously matters a lot to me,” Pepper said. She added, “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t regret that it happened.”
The 2013 Solheim Cup will be held at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, CO.
Coverage for the U.S. Women’s Open
July 5 4:00-8:00pm EST ESPN2
July 6 4:00-8:00pm EST ESPN2
July 7 3:00-6:00pm EST NBC
July 8 3:00-6:00pm EST NBC