Three first round angles in the 2021 US Women’s Open

Not long now until the first round action starts at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

No-one in the field is under any illusions about this week's US Women's Open test.

It's going to be difficult.

So difficult, in fact, that the World No. 1 Jin Young Ko used the word "tough" no less than eight times in her press conference and she was far from alone in readying herself for a fight to equal, never mind beat, par.

The fairways at The Olympic Club are famously tilted, meaning that a ball can land on them and kick sideways.

Shaping the ball into the lie of the land will help, but luck and fortitude will also be required by those who stay in-contention to emulate last year's winner A Lim Kim.

Let's take a closer look at some first round options.

The green and gold

Can Aussie Hannah Green, a protege of the great Karrie Webb, get her quest for a second Major triumph off to a good start?

She acknowledged the potential difficulty of the test but, at the same time, she is ready for it.

"I wouldn't be surprised if you saw the winner finish over par," she said. "That's how tough it's playing.

"The rough is really thick. So getting yourself around is going to be quite the task. It's going to be quite gruelling.

"I'm super excited. Obviously had some good results this year and love playing Major Championships, so I'm super excited."

In round one she plays with Ko and Danielle Kang.

Ko is recovering from a wrist injury which she insists is now fine, but even the most accurate players are going to hit a lot of shots from thick rough which will be a big test for the joint and muscles.

Ko has been recovering from a wrist injury.
Ko has been recovering from a wrist injury.

She's as hardy as they come and being too clever about her vocabulary might be a fool's errand because it is necessarily limited by English not being her first language, but there was a certain sense of foreboding in her repetition of the word "tough".

Kang, meanwhile, has failed to equal or beat par in seven of her 12 first rounds in the tournament (and in 40 laps in the event she's carded an over-par score 27 times).

Green is 9/4 with Unibet to get off to a good start by bettering the other two.

You might also consider backing Green to beat Lexi Thompson in a 72-hole match-bet at Bet365. She's 10/11 and Thompson has putted very poorly in her last two starts, making the cut both times but pretty much having the field's worst performance on the greens.

The amateur star

Rose Zhang is the reigning US Amateur Champion, but she has a little advantage over her first round three-ball opponents in that she played the course earlier this year.

"It's an amazing venue," she told the press yesterday. "I feel like there's a couple doglegs left and right that I'm able to kind of know where I'm going to place the ball, especially with the different lies on every single one of those par-5s and par-4s.

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"It's just you really have to know how to shape the ball, and for me, I think it's just being able to have a solid game plan, and then later on trying to execute that. It will definitely keep myself ahead of what I'm doing, and I'll just go from there."

Those are interesting words, about game plans and sticking to them: they exactly echo what Tiger Woods said of the course when it hosted the 2021 Men's US Open. Not a bad person to emulate.

Zhang is up against British Open champion Sophia Popov, who admitted to exhaustion after losing the final of last week's match play event (seven matches in five days of extreme heat), and defending champion A Lim Kim, who has struggled a bit this year with first round scores that read: 78-76-70-67-74-76.

Zhang is not without Major experience: she's 3-for-4 at making the cut and was T11th at last year's ANA Inspiration.

She's the 5/2 outsider of the trio with Betway.

The fast starter

Korea's Amy Yang likes a Thursday at the US Women's Open.

Three times she has found herself tied second after 18 holes and she's also been tied fourth.

She found form in the mini-Asian Swing last month, finishing T12th and tied third, spending all eight rounds in the top 20.

She's 60/1 with Unibet (six places) to get off to another speedy start.

READ MORE: Inbee sure to wear flowers in your hair: Park chases more Major glory in San Francisco

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