Five players to watch at LPGA Championship
There's no getting around having a famous last name in sports. Cheyenne Woods, niece of you-know-who, is making her professional debut this week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
This would bring Woods, a recent Wake Forest graduate, plenty of attention anyway; but the fact that Uncle Tiger just won The Memorial on Sunday turns the amp up even a little more. But the younger Woods is in this for the experience with the hope she is still playing on the weekend.
This is the LPGA's second major of the season and will be held at Locust Hill Country Club outside of Rochester, N.Y., for the third straight year; but, so far, both LPGA Championships held at Locust Hill have been snoozers. In 2010, American Cristie Kerr won with the largest margin of victory in the event's history (12 strokes). Last year, world No. 1 Yani Tseng won by 10.
Can this week's tournament provide a little more excitement? Well, young Ms. Woods' presence will bring a few more eyes, although it seems unlikely she'll be in the mix to win this early in her burgeoning pro career.
However, here are five golfers who might be lifting the trophy Sunday:
1. Yani Tseng, Chinese Taipei
Yes, the defending champ leads the list of top contenders, just like she does every week. Tseng first won the LPGA Championship in 2008, when the event was being played at Bulle Rock in Maryland. Last year, she torched the field, shooting rounds of 66-70-67-66 to finish 10 shots ahead of second-place Morgan Pressel.
Tseng has 15 career LPGA victories, three of which have come this year. She has also finished in the top 10 of all eight tournaments in which she has played in 2012.
On Sunday, Tseng shot a pedestrian 72 in the final round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic and finished tied for 12th. She hasn't won since March 25 at the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., so in Yani Time, she's due.
2. Stacy Lewis, United StatesAt this point, her game may be the hottest on the tour. Lewis has won two of her past three tournaments and tied for fifth in the other. Her most recent victory came Sunday at the Classic. And she already has one major under her belt: the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The 27-year-old Lewis now has overtaken Cristie Kerr as the top-ranked American on tour, but Locust Hill hasn't been all that rewarding in the past decade-plus for the stars and stripes. Locust Hill, site of a tour stop from 1977-2009, became the LPGA Championship's home in 2010; but since 1999, only three players from the U.S. have won there: Meg Mallon in 2000, Kim Saiki in 2004 and Kerr in 2010.
3. Lexi Thompson, United States
Thompson turned pro in June 2010, won her first LPGA title in 2011 at 16, and is playing her rookie season as a member of the tour. The American teen tied for low round with a 67 on Sunday at the ShopRite Classic. She finished tied for fifth and her game seems to be rounding into form nicely for this championship. Thompson was second to Lewis in the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic on April 29, so her past two events have been top-five finishes. She tied for 22nd at the Kraft Nabisco on April 1.
4. Ai Miyazato, Japan
At 5-foot-2, she's no big hitter, so she makes her living in the short stuff. Statistically, she's the top putter on the LPGA Tour, so she could have some advantages on Locus Hills' traditionally tricky greens.
Miyazato won the LPGA Lotte Championship Presented by J Golf in Hawaii on April 21, her eighth career tour victory. She also has five other top-10 finishes this year, including a tie for 10th on Sunday. Miyazato tied for third at the 2010 LPGA Championship at Locust Hill, so she knows she can play well on this course.