Punch Shot: Predicting the great champions of women’s golf in 2022
The women’s game saw four first big winners in 2021 as well as Anna Nordqvist seize the No.3 career. In addition to Nordqvist’s triumph at the AIG Women’s Open, Patty Tavatanakit won the Chevron Championship (formerly the ANA Inspiration), Yuka Saso won the US Women’s Open, Nelly Korda won the KPMG Women’s PGA and Minjee Lee won the Amundi Evian Championship.
With these five majors up for grabs again in 2022, who are the top picks to win? Our GolfChannel.com editors offer their predictions:
March 31 – April 3, Mission Hills CC, Rancho Mirage, CA
Defending champion: Patty tavatanakit
BRENTLEY ROMINE: Nelly Korda. She has grown closer to Mission Hills in recent years, including in 2020 when she directed or co-directed after every round before falling in the playoffs. This class is for her – it’s a shame this is the last edition before the first big of the year moves to Houston.
MERCER BAGS: Nelly Korda. Not really a member here, but it’s impossible to look past her. Not only is she the No. 1 player in the world, but she has finished in the top 3 in her last two starts at Mission Hills. Look for Nelly to make the last jump in Poppie’s Pond.
MAX SCHREIBER: Lydie Ko. A year after ending a 1,084-day winless drought and winning the Vare Trophy, the 24-year-old is looking to land her third major and the first since 2016, which took place at the event . In the midst of his six-year winless lull, Ko still found success in Mission Hills. She placed second in solo last year, sixth in 2020 and finished in the top 20 in ’17 and ’18.
Women’s US Open
June 2-5, Pine Needles Lodge and GC, Southern Pines, NC
Defending champion: Yuka saso
ROMINE: Pauline Roussin Bouchard. Call me crazy, but I believe the newbie trend continues. In the last 15 U.S. Women’s Internationals, 13 winners were major first-time champions, each of the last three. The powerful Frenchwoman has just completed two All-American first-team seasons in South Carolina and will immediately be one of – if not the – longest player in the LPGA this year. If the USGA tightens the landing zones as planned, it will benefit Roussin-Bouchard to hit corners from unguarded lies rather than intermediate irons.
BAGS: Nasa Hataoka. She is the best player in the world without a major, in sixth place in the Rolex Rankings. Players of Asian descent have enjoyed significant success in this major tournament, and the Japanese star was a finalist in 2021.
SCHREIBER: Nelly Korda. On the same greens where Annika Sorenstam claimed her first victory and her first major in 1995, Korda, who projected herself to the forefront of the sport last year and won her first major two years younger than Sorenstam , will continue to warn the world about one of golf’s most grueling events.
PGA KPMG Women’s Championship
June 23-26, CC Congress, Bethesda, Maryland
Defending champion: Nelly korda
ROMINE: Jin Young Ko. It’s easy to pick Nelly or Jin Young in one of these major tournaments, but if Ko wins just one, it’s highly likely to happen here. She’s the best approach player in the game and after close calls at Mission Hills and Pine Needles (I’ll take her in pencil for the finalists), she’s hungrier than ever to win this week. On a large golf course, one of the biggest stars of the circuit presents himself.
BAGS: Jin Young Ko. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ko already has a major at this point of the year (she is a former Chevron winner). His KPMG record isn’t great – by his standards – but Congress, this year’s venue, produces top-level champions and that’s exactly what Ko is.
SCHREIBER: Danielle Kang. Despite winning the Vare Trophy and becoming world number 2 in 2020, last year was her first winless season since 2016. But KPMG generally serves her well. Her only major victory there came in 2017 and she finished T-5 in ’19 and ’21. Although ’21 was a sluggish year for Kang, she still registered nine top-10s, was fourth in putts average and seventh in GIR putts. She also recently worked with swing guru Butch Harmon in an effort to rewrite her career path by winning another major.
Amundi Evian Championship
July 14-17, Evian Resort GC, Evian-les-Bains, France
Defending champion: Minjee lee
ROMINE: Lydie Ko. It has always been her best major with a win (2015) and five other top 10s, including a T-6 last year. With her struggles seemingly behind her, Ko will have plenty of chances to add to her two major career titles this season, although she is highly likely to do so in France.
BAGS: Atthaya Thitikul. This major produces an array of champions, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Thai teenager (she turns 19 on February 20) win. She will be a rookie on the LPGA this year, but has already won the LET Order of Merit and finished fifth at Evian ’21.
SCHREIBER: Jin Young Ko. To wrap up last season, she hosted a clinic – winning three of the last four LPGA events to overtake Nelly Korda for Player of the Year, the second time Ko has won the award in the past three. years. However, she hasn’t won a major since 2019, when she only won two, including one in France. It’s a safe bet that she will win her third this year.
AIG Women’s Open
August 4-7, Muirfield, East Lothian, Scotland
Defending champion: Anna nordqvist
ROMINE: LÃ©ona Maguire. It took a while, but the former Duke superstar and two-time award winner Annika became a contender for the LPGA. Although she didn’t win, she made her way into the top 50 of the Rolex rankings. On an unfamiliar route, it’s likely that those with extensive bonding experience will do well. This includes the Irish feel.
BAGS: Jin Young Ko. She skipped last year’s Open to focus on refining her post-Olympics game and hasn’t played in 2020 due to the pandemic, but she has a pair of top- 3 in three Open starts. Muirfield will be welcoming women for the first time and, like Congress, it has a list of Hall of Fame laureates. Ko, again, does the trick.
SCHREIBER: Atthaya Thitikul. In six of the past eight years, the Open has won the first major one-player tournament, and all eight have won the Open for the first time. This theme will continue this year. The teenage phenomenon will get his first major at 19, just like Yuka Saso did last year and a year younger than fellow Thai Ariya Jutanugarn at the 2016 Open.