Lexi Thompson will be looking re-write the record books at the season's first major this week as she bids to vanquish the demons of a haunting final day at the 2017 ANA Inspiration.
As the world's players descend on Mission Hills Country Club in California, all eyes will be on the American as she looks to join the long list of golfing greats who have made the famed leap into Poppie's Pond.
It was a very different story twelve months ago as she was left in tears following a controversial viewer call-in which left her struggling under the weight of an unexpected four-shot penalty. In a moment a seemingly comfortable two-shot lead was converted into a two-shot deficit. The rest, as they say, is history and despite a valiant comeback from the World No. 2, it would be Korea's So Yeon Ryu who would finally seal the deal in a play-off and get her hands on the silverware.
Luckily, Lexi, and the rest of the field will no longer need to worry about TV referees putting pay to their title hopes, with new rules introduced following the incident prohibiting viewer call-ins.
For Ryu, whose win was largely overshadowed by the penalty, this year's championship will be a chance to attain the plaudits that last year's win failed to garner. For Lexi, who has picked up two wins and the Race to The CME Globe since the incident, it is simply about redemption.
It will require another sublime showcase of ball striking if the Solheim Cup star is to lift her second major title this week, with World No. 1 Shanshan Feng, Olympic Champion Inbee Park, and defending champion So Yeon Ryu all featuring in one of the most talented line-ups ever seen at a women’s major.
In an era where parity reigns on the LPGA Tour it’s hard to pick a favourite. Michelle Wie can finally find her name wielded among the title contenders after picking up her first win in four years at the HSBC Women’s World Championship last month. Inbee Park looked imperious in victory at the LPGA Founders Cup two weeks ago, while rookie Jin Young Ko, who already has a win under her belt this season, looks to have the goods to follow compatriot Sung Hyun Park in winning a major championship in her inaugural year on the LPGA Tour.
The list of Korean players with a genuine title shot is extensive, with last week’s winner Eun-Hee Ji and In Gee Chun, just to name two, while even the great Laura Davies, who at 53 looked to have her best days long behind her, can’t be written off after her shock 2nd place finish at the LPGA Founders Cup earlier this month.
Fans should be sure to keep an eye out for fifteen-year-old Lucy Li, who first made a name for herself by becoming the youngest player ever to tee it up at the US Women’s Open. Still an amateur, Li has continued to carry the weight of expectations remarkably well in the four years that have followed, winning a handful of times on the junior circuit, and earning low amateur honours at the ANA Inspiration twelve months ago.
British golfers have plenty to cheer with a strong contingent going in search of their first major titles. Georgia Hall, Charley Hull, and Bronte Law will all be looking to get their hands on the prestigious trophy, with Bronte in particular buoyed by a fantastic start to the season which has included two top twenty finishes.
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