Five to watch at LPGA Championship
Stacy Lewis gave the Phillie Phanatic a golf lesson this week at a Phillies-Red Sox game. If he was paying close enough attention, we're picking him to win the next major league mascot golf tournament. We just hope he knows he eventually has to stop using the belly putter in competition.
But in the realm of LPGA tournaments, it's time for the season's second major championship. Can Lewis win? If so, she'll need a much better showing than what she had this past weekend.
The LPGA Championship begins Thursday at Locust Hill Country Club outside of Rochester, N.Y. The course is a longtime LPGA Tour site, but it's the fourth time this major tournament -- which dates to 1955 -- will be held there.
The 2010 and '11 LPGA Championships at Locust Hill were blowouts, won by Cristie Kerr (12-stroke margin) and Yani Tseng (10 strokes), respectively.
Last year was a closer finish as well as a historically significant one: Shanshan Feng became the first player from mainland China to win an LPGA event. This year, the LPGA Tour has added an official tournament in China, which will be held in Beijing in October.
Feng had a 2-stroke victory in 2012 over a group of four players who tied for second, including Lewis.
So far this season, Feng has four top-10 finishes, including her runner-up performance Sunday behind winner Karrie Webb at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
"Second place is my best finish so far this year," Feng said. "When I was actually coming off the 18th green, my caddie said to me, 'You're ready for next week.' I'm really looking forward to going back."
So far this season, Feng is 17th on the LPGA money list with four top-10 finishes. Lewis is second on the list and leads the tour in top-10s with eight, two of them victories.
Lewis has been in the mix at most other tournaments this year, as well, and she has seven LPGA victories in her career. Only one is a major: the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Will No. 2 come this week?
Here's a look at five players who could be top contenders at Locust Hill.
Stacy Lewis, United States
Her 2013 victories came back-to-back in March. In the season's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, she finished tied for 32nd. Lewis is at the point in her career when winning majors has become an important goal, and she knows she can play this course well.
Inbee Park, South Korea
She leads the money list and has three victories this year, including the Kraft Nabisco. But she didn't play well at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic (May 23-26), missing the cut for the first time since the opening event of 2012. She tied for 38th at the ShopRite. Park tied for ninth at the LPGA Championship last year.
Suzann Pettersen, Norway
She's third on the money list and is a past champion of this event, winning the title in 2007 when the tournament was still played at Bulle Rock in Maryland. Pettersen was one of several top players who didn't compete well in the Bahamas (T-32) or at the ShopRite, where she missed the cut. But before that, Pettersen had a stretch with a victory, a second-place finish and two thirds. In the LPGA Championship the past three years at Locust Hill, she has tied for 11th, tied for third and tied for second.
Anna Nordqvist, Sweden
She had three top-10 finishes in May, tied for 13th at the ShopRite and is also a past winner of this major (2009) at Bulle Rock. Nordqvist was then a 22-year-old rookie who led almost wire-to-wire -- she was a stroke off the first-round lead -- and showed her nerves in a clutch way early in her career. She'll turn 26 the day after this year's LPGA Championship and could have the perfect way to celebrate.
Karrie Webb, Australia
The Hall of Famer has been sitting on seven major championships since she won the Kraft Nabisco in 2006. She has played well in the LPGA Championship, with four top-six finishes in the past seven years. That included being runner-up to Se Ri Pak in 2006 and to Pettersen in 2007. At 38, Webb has proved she is still a threat; she won the ShopRite on Sunday and has three other top-10 finishes this season.