It was a Sunday of two Australian victories for Minjee Lee and Cameron Davis plus two big name Ryder Cup players, Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari, won in the USA and England respectively. From this Thursday Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club in Alabama hosts the US Women’s Open for the first time.
He could have been playing at the Wentworth course on the European Tour but a clever schedule tweak from Olympic champion Justin Rose saw him romp home at Fort Worth. A final round of six under 64 handed the Brit a comfortable three-stroke win over US Open champion Brooks Koepka to win the Fort Worth Invitational. Rose’s victory at the Texas venue is his 22nd professional triumph, moved him from five to three in the world rankings and means he has now recorded at least one win every year since 2010. This week the PGA Tour heads to Ohio for the Memorial at Muirfield Village Golf Club won by Jason Dufner in 2017.
Italian Francesco Molinari will be looking for back-to-back Rolex Series wins after his BMW Championship win in Wentworth when he lines up in the Italian Open in Brescia this week after a two-stroke triumph in England. Rory McIlroy’s halfway lead evaporated as he and Molinari sat on a four-stroke lead from the rest of the field on Saturday night before the Italian’s final round 68 bested McIlroy’s 70. Molinari bogeyed only twice all week and played the last 44 holes bogey-free.
Australian Minjee Lee, on her 22nd birthday, secured her fourth LPGA title in winning the LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor. Lee, the only player to break 70 in each round (67-69-68-68) did suffer a late wobble when IK Kim joined her in the lead. But Lee followed her bogey on 17 with a birdie on 18. Given Lee placed T11 in last year’s US Women’s Open the victory in Michigan puts the Perth golfer in a good position ahead of the weekend in Alabama.
Fellow Australian Cameron Davis, winner of November’s Australian Open, prevailed in only his fifth second-tier start in the USA this season, to claim the Web.Com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open by one stroke. Sydney’s Davis started the day six shots adrift and fired an impressive seven under 65. The victory gets him a start this week on the PGA Tour in Ohio and moves him to 105 in the rankings after he started the week at 162. Davis, 23, was ranked 1290 this time last year when playing the McKenzie Tour in Canada.
Player Performance Notes
This week the Shoal Creek venue in Alabama hosts a major for the first time with the US Women’s Open. Here are some notes and thought ahead of the major which is at a venue that is not even a regular stop on the LPGA.
Under 20: Ariya Jutanugarn. A winner recently in Virginia the world number five has seven top seven finishes in her last eight starts.
Under 20: Minjee Lee. Currently ranked eighth in the world Lee is the highest ranked player yet to win a major and hasn’t finished outside the top 29 in her last five starts which also includes a second-placed finish behind Lydia Ko in California and well as last weekend’s triumph.
20 to 50: Eun Hee Ji. The Kia Classic winner from March has three top ten finishes in her last four starts and won this event back in 2009 when it was held at Saucon Valley in Pennsylvania. The course has a similar profile to Shoal Creek in that it was a new venue for many of the filed at the time.
200 to 500: Emma Talley. The LPGA rookie went to the University of Alabama and is the only member of the course in the field. Talley, who has two top tens this year on tour, qualified via a playoff on Monday and her course experience should be a huge asset. Especially given it was closed for practice on Tuesday due to Subtropical Storm Alberta so many are still unfamiliar with the venue to a level they normally would be before a major.
Greens in regulation
Last year’s edition of the US Women’s Open tournament, won by Park Sung-Hyun, was held at Trump National. The New Jersey venue had it’s issues as the USGA’s course choice but the Alabama venue has it’s own controversial past with only one African-American member on the books in 1994 when Tiger Woods led his college team Stanford to a win at the course. The less said about Hall Thompson the better.
Out at the same price in the markets as one of our picks Emma Talley another 200-1 chance this week in Birmingham is worth noting as decorated Australian player Karrie Webb will break her own active streak when she tees it up for her 23rd straight US Women’s Open. Webb is player under a special exemption and has done so since 2011 in this tournament when her ten-year winner’s exemption expired. A two-time winner of this major (2000 and 2001) Webb’s spot it not merely ceremonial as she picked up a T19 finish in Virginia recently and her experience might be a useful asset at a course which the seven-time major winner says won’t present the same conditions as recent editions of this tournament.
Image via pgatour.com