Women’s US Open: Major tees off with record purse, iconic venue and breakout stars

A pregnant Amy Olson walks the course
Amy Olson is “trying not to put too much pressure or expectation” on the Women’s US Open

The Women’s US Open starts on Thursday and the second major of season boasts an iconic venue, record purse and intriguing storylines.

The purse is $11m (£8.7m), an increase from last year’s $10m (£7.9m), with the winner getting $2m (£1.6m) – matching the biggest payout in women’s golf.

Players are also making headlines as 2014 champion Michelle Wie West announced this is her final tournament.

And American Amy Olson will tee off at Pebble Beach seven months pregnant.

Olson told the LPGA Tour website: “I started texting like every mum on the PGA Tour going, ‘how long did you play? At what point did you stop?’ And I was hearing that the max is kind of right around 28 to 32 weeks, depending on how you carry, who you are.

“I computed that at the US Women’s Open, I will have just completed 30 weeks. I’m like, ‘OK, it’s possible’. I’m hearing that it’s doable. It’s Pebble Beach of all things. So I’m like, ‘You know what, let’s just go out there and see what happens’.”

Olson, 30, has only started three LGPA Tour events this year. She finished joint 61st at the Lotte Championship in April but did not make the cut in June’s Shoprite LPGA Classic and Meijer LPGA Classic.

Her best finish at the Women’s US Open was joint second in 2020 and she faces a strong field in trying to improve upon the result.

‘Zhang is just so incredible, a real competitor’

Defending champion Minjee Lee will take to the course but a player who has more attention before the event is Rose Zhang.

The 20-year-old American only turned professional this year and won her first tournament as a pro at the Liberty National in June.

And it is not just the media and fans speaking about Zhang – Wie West has said the player does not need to look to past champions for inspiration.

“She doesn’t need any mentors. She’s got it,” Wie West told the LPGA. “She’s incredibly poised and has that inner confidence, that inner silent confidence in her that is just so incredible, and she is a real competitor.”

There is also a strong British contingent.

Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh and England’s Georgia Hall, Charley Hull, Bronte Law, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Jess Baker are among the Britons who will compete.

Baker secured her spot at the major by winning the Amateur Championship.

“I can try and make the cut and push and do really well performance-wise rather than just being there to make up the numbers,” Baker recently told BBC Sport.

“My confidence is pretty high right now and that’s why it is exciting to play in these big events because it gives me the opportunity to see where I fit in against the best in the world and what I have to do to get better.”

Ireland’s Leona Maguire, who won the Meijer LPGA Classic in June, will also play in the major.

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