The U.S. Women’s Open, the second major of the LPGA Tour’s season, tees off this week in Southern Pines, North Carolina.
Contested at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, the 77th edition of the women’s national golf championship will mark the USGA’s return to the Tarheel State for the first time since the 2007 edition, which was also played at Pine Needles.
Offering a record $10 million purse, the field of 156 players will include all of the top LPGA names, headlined by world No. 1 Jin Young Ko and American superstar Nelly Korda, who makes her long-awaited return from a blood clot.
Below, you’ll find more details to help you get primed for the 2022 edition of the LPGA’s oldest major.
LPGA Tour At-a-Glance
Name: U.S. Women’s Open
Title Sponsor: ProMedica
Maiden Event: 1946
Dates: June 2-5, 2022
Where: Southern Pines, N.C.
Course: Pine Needles
Distance: Par 71, 6638 yards
Architect: Donald Ross
Format: Stroke, 72-holes, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,800,000
Defending Champion: Yuka Saso
How to Follow the U.S. Women’s Open
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U.S. Women’s Open History
Not surprisingly, the U.S. Women’s Open was conceived well after the men’s event, but it is still rich in tradition, with this year’s Open being the 74th edition.
The first U.S. Women’s Open was held in 1946 and won by Patty Berg, who to this day holds the LPGA record for major championship victories with 15. The first two decades of the U.S. Women’s Open were largely dominated by a small group of elite golfers which included Betsy Rawls, Mickey Wright and legendary all-around athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
Four-time winner Rawls (+7) won her third U.S. Women’s Open title when Jackie Pung (+6) was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. Pung’s score was kept by playing partner Betty Jameson, the 1947 champion. Pung’s official score was 6-over and would have won if not for the error.
As the tournament has progressed it’s gained popularity for being the richest, and arguably most prestigious, event in women’s golf.
More recent Opens have brought winners like Hall-of-Famers Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, Julie Inkster and Inbee Park into the spotlight.
The early winners were almost exclusively American, as only three of the first 40 Opens were won by non-Americans. However, as women’s golf has become more global that number as precipitously increased. Starting in 2005, spanning 17 editions of the U.S. Women’s Open, only four Americans to have won the coveted major: Cristie Kerr (2007), Paula Kreamer (2010), Michelle Wie (2014) and Brittany Lang (2016).
The 2022 event will feature golfers from 28 different countries.
History: Recent Winners
2021: Yuka Saso (-4)
2020: A-lim Kim (-3)
2019: Jeongeun Lee6 (-6)
2018: Ariya Jutanugarn (-11)
2017: Sung Hyun Park (-11)
2016: Brittany Lang (-6)
2015: In Gee Chun (-8)
2014: Michelle Wie (-2)
2013: Inbee Park (-8)
2012: Na Yeon Choi (-7)
2011: So Yeon Ryu (-3)
(272) – Annika Sorenstam (1996), Juli Inkster (1999), In Gee Chun (2015)
(-16) – Juli Inkster (1999)
4 – Betsy Rawls (1951, 1953, 1957, 1960)
4- Mickey Wright (1958-59, 1961, 1964)
3 – Babe Zaharias (1958, 1950, 1954)
Rewind: 2021 U.S. Women’s Open Champion
Yuka Saso beat Nasa Hataoka with a birdie on the third hole of overtime to claim the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open championship.
Saso, a 19-year-old native of the Philippines, posted a final-round 73, highlighted by birdies on two of her final three holes to catch Hataoka and pass a struggling Lexi Thompson, who held a five-stroke lead at the turn but closed in 41, bogeying the final hole to drop into solo third.
“I don’t know what’s happening in the Philippines right now, but I’m just thankful that there’s so many people in the Philippines cheering for me,” said Saso, who becomes the first major champion, male or female, from the Philippines.
“I don’t know how to thank them. They gave me so much energy. I want to say thank you to everyone.”
Saso started the day just one shot off Thompson’s lead but after back-to-back double bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3, she dropped several shots off the pace. In fact, with just eight holes to play she was six shots back.
“I was actually a little upset,” she said. “But my caddie talked to me and said, just keep on going; there’s many more holes to go. That’s what I did.”
Saso got back into contention with back to back birdies on 16 and 17, but her comeback was mostly due to Thompson’s back-nine collapse. The American star finished her final eight holes at 5-over par, including bogeys on 17 and 18, and was still only one shot off the pace.
The win earned Saso $1 million, along with immediate membership onto the LPGA Tour and a five-year exemption.
Final Top-5 Leaders
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 4)
1. Yuka Saso -4 (+1)
2. Nasa Hataoka -4 (-4)
3. Lexi Thompson -3 (+3)
4. Megan Khang -2 (-2)
4. Shanshan Feng -2 (-1)
The field in North Carolina includes all the marquee names, led by world Nos. 1 Jin-Young Ko of Korea and second-ranked Nelly Korda (USA), who makes her 2022 debut after recovering from a blood clot.
A strong Korean contingent will join Ko, including three more players ranked in the top-10: Inbee Park (No. 8), Hyo-Joo Kim (9) and Sei Young Kim (10).
The remaining five top-10 ranked players represent five different countries including New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (No. 3), Aussie Minjee Lee (4), Thai Atthaya Thitikul (5), American Lexi Thompson (6) and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka (7).
Each of the season’s 12 winners will also tee it up this week, including the aforementioned Jin Young Ko (HSBC Women’s World Championship), Minjee Lee (Cognizant Founders Cup), Nasa Hataoka (LA Open), Lydia Ko (Gainbridge LPGA), Hyo-Joo Kim (HSBC Women’s World Championship) and Atthaya Thitikul (JTBC Classic presented by Barbasol).
Other 2022 winners include Americans Marina Alex (Palos Verdes Championship), Danielle Kang (Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions) and 2022 major champion Jennifer Kupcho (The Chevron Championship), alongside Dane Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Honda LPGA Thailand) and Ireland’s Leona Maguire (LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony).
Other top-ranked names include Americans Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas, Ally Ewing and Megan Khang; Koreans Hae Ran Ryu, Jeongeun Lee6, Min Ji Park and In Gee Chun; England’s Georgia Hall and Charley Hull; Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Madelene Sagstrom; France’s Celine Boutier and Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit.
Golf icons, and former champions, Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie, were given special exemptions into the field.
Top-5 Betting Favorites
1. Jin Young Ko (8-1)
2. Lydia Ko (12-1)
2. Minjee Lee (12-1)
4. Lexi Thompson (14-1)
5. Nelly Korda (18-1)