Worth Watching

By Golf Channel NewsroomJune 24, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenThe 63rd U.S. Women's Open will begin Thursday at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn. Here are some groups worth keeping an eye on come Round 1.
*Starting on 10th tee


7:00 a.m. CT: Hilary Lunke, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc, Alison Walshe (A)
The first group out off the first tee. It's been five years since Lunke improbably won the Women's Open. It's also been five years since Meunier-Lebouc won her only major at the Kraft Nabisco. Since their triumphs, Lunke and Meunier-Lebouc have played in a combined 40 major championships -- and have combined to make 15 cuts. On the other hand, Alison Walshe, a former Tulane player who transferred to Arizona after Hurricane Katrina wiped out the Green Waves golf teams, is a a two-time All-American and just went 4-0 in the Curtis Cup. The amateur, not the major champs, is the player to beat in this group.
7:33 a.m. CT: Cristie Kerr, Maria Jose Uribe (A), Lorena Ochoa
The defending champion, the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion, and the reigning Women's British Open champion (and world's No. 1) . It's easily the marquee pairing in the morning. To this point, Kerr's 2008 season is mirroring her 2007 performance. But we don't anticipate a repeat. After finishing runner-up a year ago, we expect Ochoa to end her major-less drought, which currently stands at one event.
7:33 a.m. CT*: Karrie Webb, Yani Tseng, Christina Kim
Fortunately, Kim doesn't actually need other people to talk to in order to entertain herself, because Webb and Tseng aren't likely to contribute much to any conversation. Kim can chat with her caddie, the fans, the marshals, the grass and the bunker rakes, and be as content as one human can be.
7:55 a.m. CT*: Laura Davies, Stacy Lewis, Helen Alfredsson
What's rarer than a 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner baseball card? Seeing Laura Davies on TV and NOT having the announcer remind you that she's only 2 points shy of the Hall of Fame. We hope she wins this week. For her sake and ours.
7:55 a.m. CT: Natalie Gulbis, Young Kim, Carin Koch
Can looks be intimidating? Kim is grouped with the tour's No. 1 attraction (literally) and a player nicknamed 'The Face' because of her striking features. The good news for the South Korean is that Asian players have won each of the last two events on the LPGA, including the most recent major, the McDonald's LPGA (Yani Tseng from Taiwan).
8:17 a.m. CT: Kimberly Kim (A), Julieta Granada, Michelle Wie
Wie bashers can't complain this week as the 18-year-old qualified all on her own for this major. She has been playing much better of late, with a tie for sixth in the Ladies German Open on the LET and a tie for 24th at the Wegmans. Who knew that when she tied for third in 2006, just making the cut two years later would be considered progress?
12:30 p.m. CT: Martha Nause, Alexis Thompson (A), Sherri Turner
Thompson is an Open veteran ... at age 13. She became the youngest player to compete in this event a year ago (12 years, 4 months). She missed the cut, but made it her goal to get back and so she has -- one year older and 5 inches taller. That growth spurt has her hitting the ball 20 yards further off the tee. Of course, those silly Blue Coats just had to group her with two women who are a combined 105 years old. Hilarity will ensue!
1:14 p.m. CT*: Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen
The afternoon's marquee grouping. Annika may be competing in her final Women's Open (not likely). Paula is trying to win her first major championship (not likely). And Suzann is trying to put behind her a bitter loss at the Wegmans (much more likely). We'll take Pettersen out of this group as the player with the best chance to win this week. She seems to play her best when she's mad - and she can't be happy about blowing a three-shot lead last week.
1:36 p.m. CT*: Brittany Lang, Amanda Blumenherst (A), Na-Yeon Choi
It was recently pointed out in a Golfweek article that, on the 10th anniversary of Jenny Chuasiriporn's near miss at the 1998 U.S. Women's Open, no Duke player has since won on the LPGA. Lang is a former Duke star, while Blumenherst is a current Lady Devil starlet. Duke's wealth of success in the collegiate ranks hasn't applied professionally. Dan Brooks meet Mike Krzyzewski.
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