U.S. Women's Open: Staff predictions
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- The final practice rounds are done, all the preparations are complete and now it is time to sit back and see who can tame Sebonack and win the U.S. Women's Open.
Our dynamic tandem of Beth Ann Baldry and Julie Williams have been on the ground all week and thought they'd offer up their predictions.
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BETH ANN BALDRY, SENIOR WRITER
Favorite: Paula Creamer
The 2010 U.S. Women's Open champ hasn't felt this good about an Open venue since, well, Oakmont in 2010. Sebonack co-designer Tom Doak walked 25 holes with Creamer over two days this week so she should have some insider knowledge. No matter the state of Creamer's game, she wills things to happen at the USWO. She hasn't finished worse than T-19 at a Women's Open since 2004. Sebonack is being labeled as a second-shot golf course and Creamer's strength is her iron play. She's currently second on tour in greens in regulation. If her putter gets hot, she'll be in the race come Sunday.
Dark Horse: Catriona Matthew
Parts of Sebonack have a distinct links feel, which should make the native Scot feel at home. The mother of two should have good vibes coming in after a finishing runner-up to Inbee Park earlier this month at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Matthew, winner of the 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open, has the level head that's required of a demanding track like Sebonack, especially if the afternoon wind.
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JULIE WILLIAMS, ASSISTANT EDITOR
Favorite: Inbee Park
She is the obvious pick for her recent dominance, her two major victories already this year and her very, very reliable putter (which seems to have left the rest of the field simultaneously awestruck and fearful). If Park wins this week, she'll still be on track for the grand slam, which obviously adds a little pressure. I refer back to the numbers, specifically this stat: Park has won seven of her last 23 events, including last week's Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Dark Horse: Jiyai Shin
She's a dark horse because she has fallen out of the conversation in the past year, but the major championship success is there. Shin has won the Ricoh Women's British Open twice, including last year. She leads the tour in driving accuracy, even though that's not nearly as important this week as finding the right spot on the greens. Shin is No. 28 in greens in regulation, but third in putts per GIR. Basically, Shin has a great chance if her iron game is strong.