Takeaways from the U.S. Women’s Open

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Yuka Saso won her second U.S. Women’s Open title in Pennsylvania

(a) Asians continue to dominate in women’s golf – 

The US Women’s Open saw an amazing 60 Asian players in the field ( close to 50%)  with Japan and South Korea boasting  21 and 20 entries respectively. Thailand saw 8 entries, compared to one each from India and Philippines while Chinese Taipei and China had 5 & 4 entries respectively. 

Amazingly 8 Asians finished inside the top-10, with Japanese being 5 including the winner Yuka Saso. Surprisingly no Koreans in the top 10 , showing that Japan has turned the tables on their neighbours recently. 

Here are the Asians finishing in the top 10: From Japan, Yuka Saso, Hinako Shibuno, Ayaka Furue, Rio Takeda & Sakura Koiwai

The other 3 Asians in the top 10 were from Thailand, showing just how far India’s neighbour has come in the past decade thanks to their superior number and quality of golf courses, strong corporate and institutional support, better coaching and junior programs: Arpichaya Yubol, Atthaya Thithikul & Wichanee Meechai

Digging deeper, 36 Asian players made the halfway cut to the final two rounds out of 60 players: 

India – 1

Japan – 14

Thailand – 3

South Korea – 14

China – 3

Chinese Taipei – 1

(b) The USGA is vastly increasing prize funds –

In the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open, the prize fund surged to $12 million,  more than doubling in 4 years from $5.5 million in 2021 . The winner’s share also saw a significant uptick, with Yuka Saso earning $2.4 million compared to the 2021 winner, who took home $1.1 million.

Similarly for the Men, the USGA offered $ 12.5Million in 2021 and $20 million in 2023. This shows a concerted effort by the USGA, the owners of the US Open ( Just as the Indian Golf Union , or IGU,  are owners of the Hero Indian Open) to vastly increase prize funds for these major championships in the world of golf. 

In India, growth has stayed slow as the 2024 Indian Open for men saw a small increase of $250,000 to US$2.25 Million after 5 years at US$2 million whereas in 10 years, the women have moved from US$300,000 to  US$400,000 for the 2023 Women’s Indian Open.

While the USGA brought in Ally Financial in 2024 as the new title sponsor of the women’s US Open, enabling the growth in the purse;  in India, Hero Motocorp has been the IGU’s title sponsor for both men and women’s events for over a decade. 

One way for the national open purses in India to grow is for newer sponsors to be attracted to the flagship Indian events.  

U.S. Women’s Open prize fund growth

Year       Prize Fund (US $)               Winner’s Cut (US $)

2024         12mn                                  2.4mn

2023        11mn                                   2mn

2022        10mn                                  1.8mn

2021        5.5mn                                 1mn

( c ) Aditi continues to lose on distance –

While India’s lone flag bearer at the US Women’s Open for several years, Aditi Ashok recorded her best ever finish in a major – 26th,  she continues to lose out due to her lack of distance in her tee shots. Aditi averaged 241 yards , placing 73rd in the field , compared to winner Yuka Saso’s 280 yards, third longest  in the field. 

Here are a few statistical long game comparisons between Aditi and the winner Yuka Saso at the US Women’s Open: 

Aditi 

Driving Avg – 241 – 73rd

Greens In Regulation – 69% – T-20

Driving Accuracy – 82% – 2nd

Yuka 

Driving Avg – 280.7 – 3rd

GIR – 64% – T-40

Driving Accuracy – 61% – T-34

While Aditi’s stellar short game and putting continues to make up for her loss of distance, there is little doubt that if Aditi is to contend for titles, she has no choice but to increase her clubhead speed and drive the ball longer. 

Aditi made US$ 86,542, in her 28th major entry, so far her biggest cheque for the 2024 season in which she has made 8 cuts in 10 events played, to stand 66th on the LPGA Official Money List.

 (d) Lexi’s retirement points to early burnout danger –

 

 

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29-year-old Lexi Thompson, who has played 18 consecutive US Opens since she was 12 years old, announced her retirement from playing full time on the LPGA Tour. 

Her career success is underlined by her 11 LPGA wins, playing for Team USA in six Solheim Cups ( USA v Europe matches)  and two Olympic Games.

Lexi’s retirement at the age of 29 serves as a poignant reminder for young female golfers aspiring to play pro golf. An early start and relentless pressure can cause early burnout. Further, unlike the men, who can aspire to play longer and even lengthen careers into their 50”s with the lucrative senior tour, women players must recognise early, that they have to be prepared for a post tour career. 

Even Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam, arguably the most successful LPGA player ever, retired from competitive golf at 38. 

This starkly contrasts with longevity seen in men’s golf, where players like Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples and Vijay Singh continue to compete and earn big money into their 60s. 

 

 

 


Photo – USGA


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