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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Out of the Rough: AIG Women's Open (2023)

In the continued name of development in the women's game, this year’s AIG Women’s Open will take place at the historic Walton Heath with a $7.3 million purse.

This will be the first time that Walton Heath in the southwest of London will play host to the women’s final Major event of the season.

Unlike the male counterpart, the Women’s Open has not adopted a link-only policy for the AIG Women’s Open but this year’s installment will be played on this links-style course.

The Field

There will be 144 of the world’s best women golfers teeing it up this week for the final women’s Major of the year.

Included in that field is each of the 2023 major winners and each of the Rolex World Golf Rankings top 50 golfers.

Each of the winners of the earlier four majors of the season were first time major winners and will all be playing this week, including Lilia Vu (Chevron Championship,) Allisen Corpuz (U.S. Open,) Celine Boutier (Evian Championship) and Ruoning Yin (PGA Championship.)

Also returning this year is the 2022 AIG Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai who won last year at Muirfield.

The field is headlined by current World #1 in Nelly Korda. She’ll be joined by names such as Jin Young Ko, Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Atthaya Thitkul, Nasa Hataoka and Hyo Joo Kim.

There may be no one hotter on Tour than Boutier at this moment, who has now won back-to-back tournaments heading into this week. She won the latest Major event at the Evian Championship in her home country. She then went on to win the Freed Group Women’s Scottish Open a week ago. Those two victories brought her total to three victories on the season.

Rose Zhang continues to dominate the headlines. She won in her professional debut at the Mizuho Americas Open in June and is now seeking her first Major title at just 20-years-old.

Young Ko has recently been dethroned from her World #1 status. Her 2022 season was wrecked by injuries. Prior to those injuries, she was dominating at a clip matched to that of Annika Sorenstam. She’s returned to form this season, which is evident in her current World #2 status and previous #1 status.

Georgia Hall will serve as the hometown hopeful this week. Hall has five top-tens on the season.

The Solheim Cup remains a governing storyline as well. There are just 40 days between the AIG Women’s Open and the Solheim. Qualifying for both teams conclude at the end of August and there are some big names needing big results this week.

Currently, the likes of Brits Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Bronte Law would need a captain’s pick unless they can find a way to sneak into one of the eight automatic places. Other names to watch include Maja Start and Linn Grant.

The Course

This week’s installment of the AIG Women’s Open will be a composite of both the old and new courses at Walton Heath.

Walton Heath, founded in 1903, has played host to five European Opens, the Ryder Cup in 1981 and the Senior Open in 2011. It was also used for US Open Qualifying recently and last staged the British Masters in 2018.

Not only is this the first time that Walton Heath will host the AIG Women’s Open, it is the first time since 2004 that the Women’s Open will be played in Greater London since Sunningdale played host.

Walton Heath will play as a par 72 this week at around 6,780 yards for the women.

The front nine this week will play tougher than the back-nine. There are four par-fours that open the tournament, none of which are easy birdie holes.

There will be a few chances on the back-nine to make up some strokes with two par-fives and some more scorable par-fours.

Golfers will need to take advantage of the par-fives this week if they are to win. All of the par-fives this week are reachable as long as the ball is kept in play. These holes are where big moves can and will be made on the leaderboard.

Although the back-nine plays easier than the front, the closing four holes, outside of hole 16, may be the most difficult stretch of holes on the entire golf course.

Holes 15, 17 and 18 will be where the tournament is won or lost. The 16th hole offers some scoring opportunities but even then, there are a couple of deep bunkers. The 17th hole is an easier par-three but anything slightly offline will leave for a difficult up-and-down.

The greens featured this week are relatively large in size, but offer plenty of run-offs into deep bunkers. Golfers simply cannot hit and hold the ball on every part of these large greens, especially coming from the wrong side.

These greens are also tricky to read. They roll beautifully but being able to read the subtle little slopes is vital. Catching a hot putter will be absolutely crucial this week.

The Weather

As of the time of writing this, there is a 40-percent chance of precipitation for each of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. With the rain, will come some higher winds. Wind speeds are set at 11 miles-per-hour on Friday, 13 miles-per-hour on Saturday and ten miles-per-hour on Sunday. Temperature will decrease from 77 degrees on Thursday to 69-degrees some Saturday and Sunday. It appears that Thursday may be the best day weather wise this week. Those who can get out to a hot start on Thursday will put themselves in the driver’s seat.

Key Stats

  • Driving Accuracy

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Putting Average

  • Par Four Average Scoring

  • Par Five Average Scoring

  • Sand Saves

  • Sub Par Holes

Betting Card

Hyo Joo Kim (+1400)

As per my model this week, the South Korean is my favorite to win it all. She currently ranks first on Tour in GIR%, second in par four average scoring, third in both driving accuracy and par five average scoring, fifth in sub par holes, 24th in putting average and 59th in sand saves. Joo Kim is fresh off a second place finish at last week’s Freed Group Women’s Scottish Open. She has not finished worse than T20th in each of her last eight tournaments. In that same time span she placed second at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, fifth at the Meijer LPGA Classic and T6th at the U.S. Women’s Open. At this point it’s a safe bet she’s going to be in contention some Sunday.

Ayaka Furue (+3100)

Furue has been very good in majors this season. She placed T6th at the U.S. Women’s Open, T8th at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, T36th at The Amundi Evian Championship and T52nd at the Chevron Championship. She is currently second on Tour in sub par holes, fifth in par five average scoring, sixth in driving accuracy, 20th in putting average, 42nd in GIR%, 59th in par five average scoring and 60th in sand saves. I love the value of the Japan product at +3100.

Allisen Corpuz (+4500)

The defending U.S. Women's Champion comes into this week a bit out of form, missing the cut a week back at the Freed Group Women’s Scottish Open and placing T54th at The Armundi Evian Championship. Prior to that however, she followed up her U.S. Open victory with a second place finish at the Dana Open. She is currently fifth on Tour in sub par holes, seventh in driving accuracy, eighth in GIR%, ninth in par four average scoring, 16th in sand saves, 71st in par five average scoring and 82nd in putting. She’ll need to catch a hot flat stick this week if she hopes to claim her second major of the season but she’s done it once this season, she can do it again.

Ashleigh Buhai (+6500)

Buhai is the defending AIG Women’s Open champion and looks to defend her title with great value. She comes into this event second in my model to just Joo Kim. Buhai is currently second in sub par holes, 11th in driving accuracy, 12th in putting average, 18th par four average scoring, 20th in sand saves, 22nd in par five average scoring and 44th in GIR%. She did miss the cut a week ago in Scotland but the South African had a stretch of events prior where she made the cut in nine consecutive events. That run of events was highlighted by a victory at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, third at the Cognizant Founders Cup and T7th at the Mizuho Americas Open.

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