Eyes on the prize: WA trio primed for US Women’s Open push

4th Jul 2023

2023 US Women's Open

By Neal Maidment

Three WA golfers at different ends of the experience scale will be teeing it up at this week’s US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach – and all believe they have what it takes to make an impact at the biggest event in women’s golf.

Two-time Major winner and defending champion Minjee Lee headlines the WA challenge, with Hannah Green – herself a Major winner – and rising amateur star Maddison Hinson-Tolchard also in the field.

Despite an indifferent start to the season, Lee goes into the US Women’s Open in solid form having been in contention in all of her past five events – including a playoff loss to world number one Jin Young Ko at May’s Cognizant Founders Cup in New Jersey.

This sort of consistency is just what Lee, aged 26, has been hoping for as she heads into a stretch of four Major championships in seven weeks.

“The last few weeks I had one round where I didn’t perform that well, the other three were quite solid,” Lee said during a video conference from her US base. Just to get four rounds which are really good is actually quite hard but it’s coming around. I’m hitting it well, but the results aren’t showing it. Sometimes golf is like that.

“I know a lot of people expect me to be in the top 10 every week, but I try to manage my expectations and sometimes I am not going to be. My motto is ‘better every day’. I’m trying to get better every day – physically, mentally and technically.”

Lee, the current world number 6, claimed the 2022 US Women’s Open with a four-stroke victory over Mina Harigae. Should she go back-to-back at Pebble Beach, she will become the first golfer to successfully defend the most prestigious Major in women’s golf since Karrie Webb in 2001.

Fellow Major winner Green is also in optimistic form after taking a month to recharge in Perth after breaking a three-year drought to bag her third LPGA Tour title at the JM Eagle LA Championship in April.

Having spent precious time with her coach, Ritchie Smith, and golf swing guru Ryan Lumsden, Green said: “I feel like I’m in a much better place. I definitely want to continue winning and I’m really excited about the next stretch of events, including the four Majors.

“I want to say that I could win a couple more events before I next come home but with the level of golf on tour, it’s so hard to win. If that doesn’t happen, hopefully I’ll just be playing good golf.”

Hinson-Tolchard aiming high on Major debut

Maddison Hinson-Tolchard

Gosnells product Maddison Hinson-Tolchard has excelled in US college golf

 

Twenty-one-year-old amateur Maddison Hinson-Tolchard may not yet have the stature of her esteemed peers, but after excelling on the ultra-competitive US college golf circuit for the past two years she is showing every indication she has what it takes to compete at the highest levels.

The Gosnells golfer and former GolfWA High Performance athlete has secured three wins and amassed a glut of records for the Oklahoma State Cowgirl Golf team since moving stateside in late 2021.

In a stellar 2023, she won the highly-prized Big 12 Championship, represented the International Team at the Palmer Cup in June and was a recipient of the Karrie Webb Scholarship, which enabled her to spend time with the seven-time Major winner at the recent Women’s PGA Championship.

Hinson-Tolchard underlined her credentials by breezing through regional qualifying for the US Women’s Open, winning her heat at Indian Creek Golf Club in Texas with an eight-under-par 36-hole total.

Having previously played at Pebble Beach during her college career she’s entering the event in a confident mood. “I feel like I definitely deserve to be here,” she said during a video conference. “I’ve worked hard to earn my spot and I’m not here to make up the numbers – I’m here to compete.”

In terms of her ambitions for the week, Hinson-Tolchard is hoping to follow in the footsteps of some of the greats of the game, including Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr and Lydia Ko, in securing low amateur honours.

“I think that would be a really big achievement and I also think finishing in the top 30 would be awesome for my first major,” she said.

There is further Aussie interest in the US Women’s Open in Grace Kim and Gabi Ruffels. The event takes place at Pebble Beach Golf Links from July 6-9.


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