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Best bets: Longshots at the U.S. Women’s Open

Constant stress on a player’s short game is a hallmark of any U.S. Open course. A comprehensive test of golf, after all, includes being able to get up and down after a wayward tee shot or an off-target approach.

So it will be this week at Lancaster Country Club, home of the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open. Players with stellar long games will, as always, be at a distinct advantage at Lancaster, but even machine-like tee-to-green players will have to grind out pars on a tough track.

Below are three players with elite short games who are largely being overlooked ahead of the U.S. Women’s Open. It’s those around-the-green abilities that could make the difference in a stacked field. Be sure to catch all the championship action this week on Peacock, USA Network and NBC (click here for how to watch).

Lydia Ko (+4000 to win, +320 to finish top ten)

Fourth overall on the LPGA Tour in total strokes gained this season, Ko has been stellar on and around the greens of late. Entering the U.S. Women’s Open, Ko is 16th in strokes gained: around the green and 31st in strokes gained: putting.

Ko has been spotty off the tee for much of 2024, a big reason she’s a longshot to take the title this week at Lancaster. That she’s been excellent around the greens – ranking 12th on tour in sand saves – gives her a fighting chance this week. Ko’s 1.76 putts per green when she hits the green in regulation ranks top 10 on the LPGA Tour. Stable tee-to-green play combined with her world-class chipping and putting makes Ko an intriguing option.

Patty Tavatanakit (+3500 to win, +320 to finish top ten)

Tavatanakit, who I raved about on this week’s episode of Going for the Green, is top 12 in every strokes-gained category this season except for approach. She’s struggled with her irons – especially long irons – over the past couple months. Whatever her flaws, Tavatanakit certainly has upside headed into the U.S. Open: No LPGA player has more eagles than Tavatanakit this season and only 20 players have more birdies.

She brings an interesting profile into the Open: Tavatanakit is long off the tee – eighth longest on tour, in fact – and she’s seventh best around the greens in 2024. Tavatanakit isn’t a bad putter either, averaging 29.07 putts per round (19th on tour). Her game should play at Lancaster.

Jenny Shin (+7500 to win, +500 to finish top ten)

The longest shot of these three players, Shin ranks 13th in strokes gained: around the green this season. Shin, unlike a lot of LPGA players with top short games, struggles with the putter, ranking 70th in strokes gained with the flat stick this year.

Shin comes into the U.S. Open in good form: She notched a T-28 two weeks ago at the Mizuho Americas Open. In fact, she has three straight top-30 finishes, thanks largely to her accurate driving (80% fairway rate) and reliable around the green game.