The 77th U.S. Women’s Open Championship takes place at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in North Carolina from June 2nd–5th, with a purse of $5,500,000 at stake.
The first U.S. Women’s Open, played at Spokane (Wash.) Country Club in 1946, was the only one conducted at match play, and was conducted by the Women’s Professional Golfers Association (WPGA). The inaugural championship was won by Patty Berg. The WPGA conducted the Women’s Open until 1949, when the newly formed Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) took over its operation. The arrangement lasted for only four years, as in 1953 the LPGA asked the United States Golf Association to conduct the championship, which it has done since.
The competition is remarkable for the age range of its winners, from Inbee Park (2008) and Yuka Saso ages just 19, to Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who won the 1954 Women’s Open at the age of 43.
Only one amateur has won the championship – Catherine Lacoste, daughter of French tennis player Rene Lacoste and 1927 British Ladies Amateur champion Simone Thion de la Chaume. Seven other amateurs have finished as runners-up, most recently Hye-Jin Choi in 2017.
The field this year is large, with 156 names on the starting sheet. Among them are 12 U.S. Women’s Open champions, including Na Yeon Choi (2012), In Gee Chun (2015), Eun-Hee Ji (2009), Ariya Jutanugarn (2018), A Lim Kim (2020), Brittany Lang (2016), Jeongeun Lee (2019), Sung Hyun Park (2017), So Yeon Ryu (2011), Yuka Saso (2021), Annika Sorenstam (1995, 1996, 2006), Michelle Wie West (2014). At 15 years, 6 months and 2 weeks of age as of June 2nd, the first day of the championship, the championship’s youngest competitor is Jeonghyun Lee of the Republic of Korea. At age 51, Annika Sorenstam, of Sweden (seen above), is the championship’s oldest competitor.
For the eighth consecutive year, and ninth time overall, sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, are both in the field. Also the field together for the eighth time are sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda. The Jutanugarns and Kordas are two of seven sets of sisters to have competed in the same U.S. Women’s Open.
There are 28 countries represented, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong China, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Paraguay, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Republic of Ireland, Republic of Korea, Scotland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United States of America, and Wales.
The field includes 78 fully exempt golfers and 11 U.S. Women’s Open champions. Qualifying, conducted over 36 holes, was held at 26 sites between April 19th and May 16th, 23 sites in the US, and three international sites (England, Japan, and the Republic of Korea).
Should Yuka Saso win, she would become the eighth player to successfully defend her championship title, joining Mickey Wright (1958-59), Donna Caponi (1969-70), Susie Maxwell Berning (1972-73), Hollis Stacy (1977-78), Betsy King (1989-90), Annika Sorenstam (1995-96) and Karrie Webb (2000-01).
Nelly Korda, the Olympic champion and world number two, is ready to compete after recovering from a blood clot in her arm. Annika Sorenstam is in the field at the age of 51, while Michelle Wie West is bidding farewell to a remarkable playing career. The 32-year-old has stated she is stepping away from the game after this week’s event, other than competing in next year’s US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach.
In a tournament with several remarkable players to watch, World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam returns to the Women’s Open for the first time since 2008, at the age of 51, after qualifying by winning last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open. She starts at 8:50 a.m. on Thursday, along with So Yeon Ru, and 22-year-old amateur Ingrid Lindblad, the world No. 2-ranked amateur.
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