Altvater: U.S. Women’s Open field includes 22 teenagers at PinehurstWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The U.S. Women’s Open will start on June 19 at Pinehurst with 22 teenagers in the 156-woman field.
Lexi Thompson is 19 years old and has been a member of the LPGA since 2012. She has four wins on the LPGA Tour including her first major championship win at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship in March.
Lydia Ko turned professional in October of last year, but is not your average rookie. She won two LPGA Tour events while still an amateur and won the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic just three days after her 17th birthday in April.
Ko is ranked No. 3 in the world behind only Toledo-born Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park. She has hired Jim Furyk’s caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan to help her navigate the perils of Pinehurst this week.
The third teenager to earn an automatic bid into the U.S. Women’s Open is 2013 LPGA Rookie of the Year Moriya Jutanugarn.
She has not had a strong start in 2014 and will be looking to turn her season around. Jutanugarn has six missed cuts in 14 starts this year and has yet to post a top-10 finish.
The rest of the 19 teenagers had to earn their spots into the U.S. Women’s Open through sectional qualifiers around the world.
The most notable of the youngsters that will tee it up this week at Pinehurst is 18-year-old Minjee Lee from Australia. She is the No. 1 ranked women’s amateur in the world and won the 2012 U.S. Junior Girls’ Championship.
In February she won the Oates Victorian Open on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour and has won consecutive Australian Women’s Amateur Championships in 2013 and 2014.
The field even has one young lady that will not become a teenager for two more years. Eleven-year-old Lucy Li of California became the youngest person to ever qualify for a U.S. Women’s Open.
Among all of this youth, former U.S. Women’s Open Champion Dame Laura Davies is the oldest qualifier in the field and at 50 years old could be these girls’ grandmother.
She has 45 Ladies European Tour career wins and 20 LPGA Tour wins, including four major titles. Davies is a past USGA champion as she won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open.
The field at Pinehurst this week will have a youthful tone with the amount of young talent under the age of 20.
The women’s game is filled with young ladies ready to challenge the established veterans for major championship titles and the rewards that go along with it.