Leading contenders in the 2021 US Women’s Open

Who’s hot and who’s not ahead of Thursday’s first round at the Olympic Club in San Francisco?

The US Women's Open is the highlight of the LPGA season.

The men's game has four Major Championships, but we all know that three of them are rated a little higher than the fourth.

In the women's game this championship stands taller than the rest.

It's the oldest, it's the toughest, it's the most prestigious.

It's also an event dominated by one nation: South Koreans have won nine of the last 13 editions (American have thrived too - claiming seven of the last 19).

This week the field heads to the Olympic Club in San Francisco which has hosted the men's US Open on five occasions, but this will be the first time it has welcomed the women.

Let's take a look at the leading contenders.

Jin Young Ko (Korea)

The 25-year-old finished second in her very first Major Championship back in 2015 and then didn't land another top 10 in them until 2019, but when the dam burst it did so in sensational style.

She's not finished outside the top 16 in her last seven Majors, winning two of them, finishing second, third and seventh in three others.

Her first three starts in this championship all reaped top 20s, but she was never in-contention until she grabbed tied second last December - and she very nearly pinched the title on the last day.

Yet to win in 2021, but does have four top seven finishes in six strokeplay starts.

Odds 14/1 with Bet365

Inbee Park (Korea)

The 32-year-old is a legend of the game who has amassed a slightly insane 34 top 10s in 61 Major Championship appearances (56%), seven of them wins including twice in this event (2008 and 2013).

That said, although she's slightly improved that top 10 ratio in the last six years (13 in 22 starts, 59%), she hasn't had a win since 2015.

In the tournament itself the top 10 ratio climbs even higher (nine in 14, 64%), but she hasn't been genuinely in-contention since the second win eight years ago.

A winner of the Kia Classic in March.

Odds 11/1 with bet365

Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand)

The winner of the 2016 Women's British Open (a year when she finished top 10 in four Majors), she then added triumph in this championship in 2018.

She was also tied ninth at last year's US Open, but that was her only Major Championship top 10 since 2019 and her form in regular events had also dipped.

Indeed, she hadn't won in three years when she emotionally claimed victory on home soil at the start of May.

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She backed that up with a last four effort in last week's LPGA Match Play.

Odds 14/1 with Bet365

Sei Young Kim (Korea)

The 29-year-old was a prolific winner from 2015 through 2019, logging 10 triumphs on the LPGA straight after mopping up five victories in two seasons on the KLPGA before that.

She landed no less than 19 top 30s in the Major in this period, but the win was reluctant to come - her sweet-spot seemed to be windy resort tracks in warm climates.

But she made a breakthrough at last year's KPMG Championship and backed it up with tied third at the ANA Inspiration at the start of the year.

Plenty of good form this year, but yet to land a US Open top five and has only one top 10 in seven tries.

Odds 16/1 with Bet365

Nelly Korda (USA)

The 22-year-old is America's top-ranked player and a four-time winner on the LPGA who took her time coming to terms with the Majors.

That notion ought to be placed in contest: she took her time in terms of starts rather than by age because she's been competing at the top level since she was 14.

Her first 16 Major starts reaped a best of T10th, but from mid-2019 she has turned a corner, logging playoff defeat at the 2020 ANA Inspiration, two thirds, and a ninth in eight appearances.

A concern would be that she has just one top 30 (that T10th) in six starts in this event.

Odds 18/1 with Bet365

Brooke Henderson (Canada)

If this week were the KPMG Championship, Henderson would be near the top of many short-lists: she's played that event six times, landed five top 10s, was second in 2017 and won it in 2016.

Her record is far from shabby in the other Majors, but it's not on that scale and in this event in particular she has two top 10s, but they came in 2014 and 2015 - she's made the top 30 just once in five tries since.

Was a winner of the LA Open at the end of April so seeking a neat LA-SFO double this week.

Odds 25/1 with Bet365

Danielle Kang (USA)

Winner of the 2017 KPMG Championship, fourth in this event the year after and twice in the top six at Majors in 2018, but that's all her Major Championship top 10s in 49 starts which is is not especially encouraging.

It's a tough event, but, nonetheless, her record of going sub-70 just once in round one, one in round two, never in round three, and once again on Sunday is pretty poor from 12 appearances. Also hasn't made a top five this year.

Odds 18/1 with Bet365

Lydia Ko (New Zealand)

Phil Mickelson referenced Ko's comeback this year as inspiration for his PGA Championship triumph - can that boost her title bid? The 24-year-old Kiwi is hunting a third Major win, but her first since 2016 and this championship has traditionally been the one she has struggled in most.

She's made nine starts and has just the one top 10, when tied third in 2016, right in the heart of her finest thread of form, when she finished top three in five consecutive Majors. Won April's LOTTE Championship by seven shots.

Odds 14/1 with Bet365

Patty Tavatanakit (Thailand)

In some senses the 21-year-old Thai player was a shock winner of the ANA Inspiration, being a relative newcomer to the LPGA with just two top five finishes.

Tavatanakit was brilliant at the ANA Inspiration, the year's first Major.
Tavatanakit was brilliant at the ANA Inspiration, the year's first Major.

But she had been in-contention twice earlier in the season and one of her only two previous top fives had been in a Major - at this tournament in 2018 no less.

She's not drifted away after her breakthrough either, landing two top three finishes during May's mini-Asian Swing.

Odds 22/1 with Bet365

Hyo Joo Kim (Korea)

A prolific winner on the KLPGA, Kim swiftly transferred that form onto the higher stage with victory in the 2014 Evian Championship, her Major Championship debut, and added two more wins in the next two seasons.

However, she then lost form and opted to stay at home during 2020, a move that allowed her to rediscover the winning touch. Two victories back on the KLPGA were followed by success in May's HSBC Women's World Championship.

She's missed three cuts in the championship, but was also second in 2018.

Odds 16/1 with Bet365

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