Out of the Rough: U.S. Women's Open (2023)
In the name of advancement in the women’s game, the U.S. Women’s Open is to be held at the famous Pebble Beach this week.
Pebble Beach, positioned on the Monterey Peninsula in California, has been the witness to some of golf’s biggest names in golfing lifting the grandest of prizes.
This track has staged the men’s U.S. Open on six different occasions and now will host the women for the very first time.
The U.S. Women’s Open is the third Major of the LPGA season and is the longest standing of the Major events.
We saw the LPGA take to Baltusrol Lower Course just two weeks ago for the season’s second Major in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and therefore we have a quick turnaround to this next Major.
This is due in part to the condensed summer schedule, marking the second of five events in this portion of the schedule.
We too will see the biggest prize in the women’s game this week with a $10 million purse.
Minjee Lee comes into this week as the defending champion, claiming the title a year ago at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club.
Other past U.S. Women’s Open winners joining Lee this week include Yuka Sasso (2021,) Kim A-Lim (2020,) Lee Jeong-eun (2019,) Ariya Jutanugarn (2018,) Park Sung-hyun (2017,) Brittany Lang (2016,) In Gee Chun (2015,) Michelle Wie West (2014,) So Yeon Ryu (2011,) Eun-Hee Ji (2009) and Annika Sörenstam (2006.)
Roze Zhang, of course, will demand the attention of both the field and fans. Zhang famously won in her LPGA debut a few weeks back at the Mizuho Americas Open. She placed T8th two weeks ago in her Major debut at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Another notable name is Ruoning Yin who comes in as the latest LPGA Major winner, claiming the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Jin Young Ko now comes into this week as the longest standing World #1 in women’s golf history. She held the title for 159 weeks, surpassing Lorena Ochoa’s record.
Lilia Vu also comes into this week as the winner of the Chevron Championship, the first Major event of the LPGA season.
Nelly Korda will be making her second start since returning from injury as well.
As previously mentioned, this will be the first time that the famous Pebble Beach will host the U.S. Women’s Open.
It’ll play as a par-72 at 6,816 yards this week.
The course is known for some of the smallest greens on Tour with an average area of 3,500 square feet. Those with elite iron and approach play who in turn rank towards the top in greens in regulation will see an advantage.
The greens too are a Poa Grass, unlike most of the greens on the LPGA Tour. Therefore, these greens will play slower than that of a Bermuda or Bentgrass, putting a premium on putting this week.
Iron play will be of the utmost importance this week due to the angular hole layout, forcing golfers to lay up off the tee. Also due to this, Pebble Beach will bolster one of the shortest average driving distances on Tour.
Hitting the fairway at Pebble too is important with the difficulty of the greens and the thicker rough, taking approach shots from the fairway is a must. It’s also worth mentioning that the USGA governs this event and is known for its long and penal rough and overall challenging layout.
In all, hitting the fairway will be crucial this week. Not only for the USGA guidelines but the way Pebble Beach plays as a whole. The low average driving distance that will be featured this week is due to that.
As of the time of writing this, there is little-to-no-chance of precipitation across all four days of play this week. Temperatures will be on the cooler side for what we would expect out of California weather in July. Highs will range from high-50’s to low 60’s across the four days. Additionally, being a coastline course, winds will be a factor. They are set to range from 11-to-15 miles-per-hour this week.
Birdie or Better Percentage
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Par 4 Average Scoring
Par 5 Average Scoring
Hyo Joo Kim (+1800)
Kim is a five time winner on the LPGA Tour, most recently winning the Lotte Championship in April of 2022. She also has a Major victory in her career, winning the The Evian Championship in 2014. Although her lone Major was nine years ago, she’s playing some of the best golf of her career this year. In eight-of-the-nine tournaments she’s played on the season, she placed T20th or better. In that same time span she has five top tens and three top fives. She most recently went T20th at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Prior to that she placed fifth at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give and second at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer. Not a bad June to have on Tour. Kim is also tops on Tour when it comes to both GIR% and total scoring average. She is also second in par five average scoring, third in birdie or better percentage, fourth in both driving accuracy and par four average scoring and 28th in putting average. Her downfall this week is a 118th placement in sand saves but with her recent run of form and how the rest of her game lines up this week, I’m not concerned.
Ruoning Yin (+3100)
Yin is fresh off a victory on the LPGA’s most recent event and the second Major of the season in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Despite coming in as a defending Major champion, we get some rather fair odds on Yin at +3100. As well as winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Yin also won the DIO Implant LA Open earlier this year and has five T16 or better finishes on the season. Statistically speaking, 20-year-old Chinawoman is eighth in total scoring average, 11th in both birdie or better percentage, 11th in par five average scoring, 12th in GIR%, 16th in par four average scoring, 44th in driving accuracy, 45th in putting average and 52nd in sand saves. Obviously her game is going to match up this week as the defending Major champion on Tour.
Ashleigh Buhai (+4500)
Buhai actually tops my model this week and I’m loving the odds we’re getting her at this week. On the LPGA she is currently fourth in par five average scoring, fifth in birdie or better percentage, ninth in both putting average and total scoring average, 16th in par four average scoring, 18th in sand saves, 19th in driving accuracy and 35th in GIR%. In other words, she’s well above average and darn near elite in most of the statistical categories I took into consideration this week. She does have a victory on the season, winning the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer in early June. She also has eight top 20s, six top tens and two top fives in ten events on the season.