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Women's US Open - Golf: Preview

The US Women's Open is the second of the five women's Majors to take place in 2022 and it is arguably the most prestigious prize of the lot, having first been staged in 1946, making it the longest-running of the five biggest prizes in women's golf.

A nomadic tournament, this year it heads to Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina, where a bumper $10million purse is up for grabs - almost double that which was on offer at the 2021 edition.

Yuka Saso, a Filipino who now plays under the Japanese flag, triumphed 12 months ago at Four Season Golf Club and is 33/1 to successfully defend her title.

Superstar Jin Young Ko the one to beat

Jin Young Ko leads the Rolex rankings and the world's best female golfer must be respected at Pine Needles, having won six times over the last 12 months.

She is on offer at 15/2, but her form has cooled somewhat in recent months and, while she was still runner-up in Palos Verdes at the end of April, Pine Needles may well favour those who hit the ball further than the South Korean superstar.

Lydia Ko (12/1) and Minjee Lee (12/1) are next in and also look to hold serious claims - Ko has rediscovered her consistency in recent months while Lee claimed the Founders Cup last time out.

US star Lexi Thompson is 14/1, while all eyes will be on her fellow American Nelly Korda, the world number two who is making her return to competitive action following surgery to remove a blood clot.

Korda, a first-time Major champion at the Women's PGA last season, should enjoy this test, but at 20/1 a watching brief is advised given she hasn't been sighted since the Drive On Championship in February.

Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club course details

Pine Needles, an ancient Donald Ross-designed course in Southern Pines, North Carolina, has become synonymous with the US Women's Open having hosted the event on three previous occasions.

Annika Sorenstam triumphed in 1996, Karrie Webb won at Pine Needles in 2001 and Cristie Kerr claimed the latest edition of the US to be held at the course in 2007 - all were big hitters at that stage of their careers, so power looks important.

Ross courses are typically characterised by small greens which also puts an emphasis on pinpoint iron-play.

Three to follow

Lexi Thompson

Unbelievably, Lexi Thompson made her Major debut in the 2007 US Women's Open aged just 12 and it's perhaps a little surprising that the American powerhouse - an LPGA star over the last decade - has gone on to claim just one Major title in 15 years since.

Thompson's only previous Major win came in the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship - now the Chevron Championship - but Pine Needles is a course which demands tee-to-green excellence and Thompson has that in spades.

There are some mental barriers for her to overcome at the top level, but the Floridian remains capable of brilliance and has posted some excellent results this year.

She finished as runner-up at the Drive On Championship in February, fourth at the Chevron in April and second again to Minjee Lee at the Founders Cup in her most recent outing.

Thompson, a top-ten player in average driving distance this season, leads the LPGA for greens hit in regulation and, at 14/1, that stellar long-game could take her a long way.

Madelene Sagstrom

Annika Sorenstam makes her first Major appearance since 2008, but the legendary 51-year-old may be upstaged by another Swede, Solheim Cup star Madelene Sagstrom, who is 33/1 to claim a first Major.

Sagstrom is one of the most powerful drivers on the LPGA Tour and her recent results are excellent - 13th at the Chevron, third at LA Open, ninth at Palos Verdes and third at the Founders Cup before reaching the quarter-finals of the LPGA Match Play last weekend.

Jennifer Kupcho

At 50/1, it's possible to argue that Chevron Championship winner Jennifer Kupcho is being overlooked following a run of moderate results.

Kupcho has not been in top form since her victory at Mission Hills but she's still had three top-20 finishes in her last four strokeplay starts and, as a winner of the Augusta Women's Amateur, it would be foolish to write her off at a classical course which bears resemblance to the famous Masters venue.

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