SAN MARTIN, Calif. — There is little separating the top two women's golfers in the world, Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson.
The teenage sensations have won the past three majors heading into this week's U.S. Women's Open, with Ko, 19, taking two and Henderson, 18, following last month with a thrilling playoff victory over Ko in the Women's PGA Championship in Washington that could set the stage for a heated rivalry.
Fittingly, the two will be together today when this year's third major starts at the U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle, less than 100 miles south of San Francisco. Ko and Henderson will play the first two rounds with world No. 4 Lexi Thompson, 21, in the marquee group of the tournament.
"It's great to watch them both on the golf course and their attitudes and just their demeanors on the golf course," Thompson said. "They're aggressive players, and just consistent overall. You can't really even find a weakness in their game, and that's why they're so good."
The top three ranked players in the tournament — third-ranked Inbee Park will miss the Open because of a thumb injury — will face stiff competition in the 156-player field that includes nine previous champions, including last year's winner, In Gee Chun.
Other winners include Michelle Wie (2014), Na Yeon Choi (2012), Paula Creamer (2010), Eun-Hee Ji (2009), Cristie Kerr (2007), So Yeon Ryu (2011), Karrie Webb (2000, 2001) and Se Ri Pak (1998).
This will be the final U.S. tournament for Pak before she plans to retire. Her win at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin 18 years ago helped spark the recent South Korean dominance of the LPGA Tour. Seven of the past 11 winners of the U.S. Open have come from South Korea.