PINEHURST, N.C. – Rolex world No. 1 Stacy Lewis and No. 2 Inbee Park will join U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Emma Talley in a showcase grouping in the first two rounds of next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
Park won the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack last year, while Lewis won the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St. Andrews. Park took the No. 1 ranking from Lewis early in 2013. Two weeks ago, Lewis took it back, winning the ShopRite Classic and ending Park’s 59-week reign atop the world rankings.
Park answered last week, winning the Manulife Financial Classic, but she couldn't get back to No. 1. She heads to Pinehurst just three tenths of a world ranking point behind Lewis.
A year ago, Park went to the U.S. Women’s Open ranked No. 1 in the world. She was grouped with No. 2 Suzann Pettersen and No. 3 Lewis for the first two rounds. When those first 36 holes concluded, Park was 12 shots ahead of Lewis and 19 ahead of Pettersen.
There was a lot of motivation in that for Lewis. In the very next major, Lewis won the Women's British Open, halting Park's bid to become the first woman to win four major championships in a year.
Park isn’t just going for her third U.S. Women’s Open title next week, she’s bidding to win South Korea its sixth U.S. Women’s Open in the last seven played.
Lewis, Park and Talley will go off together at 8:02 a.m. Thursday on the 10th tee and 1:47 p.m. Friday off the first tee.
In other notable groupings, Rolex world No. 3 Lydia Ko will play the first two rounds with No. 4 Suzann Pettersen and No. 10 Cristie Kerr. If Ko wins, she could become the youngest No. 1 in the history of the men’s or women’s professional game. She turned 17 on April 24.
Lexi Thompson, trying to win the first two majors of the year, is grouped with fellow major championship winners Karrie Webb and So Yeon Ryu. Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April for her first major.
Michelle Wie is grouped with Catriona Matthew and Amy Yang.