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The women's major season comes to a crescendo this week at the AIG Women's Open, the fifth and final major of 2022, hosted at historic Muirfield in the county of East Lothian, Scotland.
Defending champion Anna Nordqvist leads a field of 144 players (136 pros, eight amateurs), who are competing for a $7.3 million prize purse – including the $1.095 million first-place prize. New Zealand's Lydia Ko, No. 4 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, leads the market via PointsBet Sportsbook at +1000, with world No. 3 Nelly Korda close behind at +1100. Reigning U.S. Women's Open champion and world No. 2 Minjee Lee sits at +1300, while South Korea's Hyo Joo Kim is at +1400 and recent Evian Championship winner Brooke Henderson rounds out the favorites at +1600.
The field features 10 past winners of this event since it became a major in 2001: Catriona Matthew (+50000) in 2009, Stacy Lewis (+15000) in 2013, Mo Martin (+50000) in 2014, Inbee Park (+7000) in 2015, Ariya Jutanugarn (+12500) in 2016, I.K. Kim (+35000) in 2017, Georgia Hall (+2000) in 2018, Hinako Shibuno (+25000) in 2019, Sophia Popov (+35000) in 2020 and Nordqvist (+5000) in 2021. England's Laura Davies (+50000), who won the event in 1986, is also in the field.
Forty-four of the top 50 players in the Rolex Ranking are playing, including 18 of the top 20. Missing are No. 15 Min Ji Park and No. 16 Danielle Kang, while 15 of 16 winners on the LPGA Tour in 2022 also are playing, with only the injured Kang being absent.
Hometown hero Matthew, who hails from North Berwick, Scotland, will have the honor of hitting the first tee shot at 6:30 a.m. local time. Matthew, who grew up on the Wee Course at nearby North Berwick Golf Club and still lives there with her husband and two daughters, shared her perspective on the historic moment at Muirfield, invited women to join its membership just three years ago.
“I think you just have to look forward rather than look backwards,” said Matthew, a four-time LPGA winner and two-time captain of the 2019 and 2021 winning European Solheim Cup teams. “Golf, starting in Scotland, we had a lot more traditions perhaps; that we're just gradually moving with the times.”
Odds to win the 2022 Women's Open (via PointsBet Sportsbook)
+1000: Lydia Ko
+1100: Nelly Korda
+1300: Minjee Lee
+1400: Hyo Joo Kim
+1600: Brooke Henderson
+2000: Lexi Thompson, Georgia Hall, Jin Young Ko, Atthaya Thitikul
+2200: Nasa Hataoka
+2800: Charley Hull, Hye Jin Choi
+3000: Sei Young Kim, Ayaka Furue
+3300: Celine Boutier, In Gee Chun, Linn Grant
+4000: Hannah Green, Mao Saigo
+5000: Anna Nordqvist, Carlota Ciganda, Xiyu Lin, Leona Maguire, Jennifer Kupcho, Yuna Nishimura, Miyuu Yamashita
Picks to win the 2022 Women's Open:
Best bet: Nelly Korda (+1100) … The 24-year-old is still chasing her first win of the season, and the final major of the season seems like a prime opportunity for the seven-time LPGA title winner. A blood clot in February kept Korda sidelined for four months, but this week marks her sixth start since returning from surgery and she's been knocking on the door: Korda has posted four top 10s in her last five starts including a T-8 at the recent Amundi Evian Championship.
Great value: Georgia Hall (+2000) … the 26-year-old Englishwoman arrives at Muirfield off back-to-back top 20 finishes, placing T-8 at Evian and T-18 last week at the Women's Scottish Open. The 2018 Women's Open champion has enjoyed a steady season featuring six top-20 finishes and no missed cuts. Hall was T-2 in this event last year, and while she'll need her best stuff to win another major, she appears to be trending in the right direction at the right time.
Longshot: Anna Nordqvist (+5000) … The defending champion enters the week off a string of solid finishes, including three top 25s in the last three majors as well as a win on the LET tour (Big Green Egg Open). Muirfield marks her 16th start in the Women's Open, where she's made 13 cuts with four top 10s and a win in 2021. She was T-7 in 2011, 2015 and 2017.
Past champions of the Women's Open (winning score, venue)
2021: Anna Nordqvist (Sweden), 12-under 276, Carnoustie (Championship Course)
2020: Sophia Popov (Germany), 7-under 277, Royal Troon (Old Course)
2019: Hinako Shibuno (Japan), 18-under 270, Woburn (Marquess Course)
2018: Georgia Hall (England) 17-under 271, Royal Lythem & St. Annes
2017: In-Kyung Kim (South Korea) 18-under 270, Kingsbarns
2016: Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand), 16-under 272, Woburn (Marquess Course)
2015: Inbee Park (South Korea), 12-under 276, Turnberry
2014: Mo Martin (USA), 1-under 287, Royal Birkdale
2013: Stacy Lewis (USA), 8-under 280, St. Andrews
2012: Jiyai Shin (South Korea), 9-under 279, Royal Liverpool
Last year at the AIG Women's Open
Sweden's Anna Nordqvist ended a nearly four-year win drought last year at the Women's Open at Carnoustie, where she captured her third career major title. After opening with back-to-back rounds of 71, the 34-year-old Nordqvist vaulted to a share of the lead with a third-round 65. She shot 69 in the final round to finish at 12-under 276, beating Lizette Salas, Georgia Hall and Madelene Sagstrom by one stroke.
Nordqvist came to her 72nd hole tied with Madsen, and her par at the last proved enough after Madsen made double bogey. It was Nordqvist's first win in four years and marked the ninth LPGA title of her career. Nordqvist will look to become the first player since Yani Tseng (2010-2011) to successfully defend her title since the tournament became a major in 2001.
2022 LPGA major championship schedule (winner/defending champion)
- March 31-April 3: Chevron Championship; 2022 champion: Jennifer Kupcho; Mission Hills CC (Dinah Shore Tournament Course), Rancho Mirage, Calif.
- June 2-5: U.S. Women's Open, 2022 champion: Minjee Lee; Pine Needles Lodge & GC, Southern Pines, N.C.
- June 23-26: KPMG Women's PGA Championship, 2022 champion: In Gee Chun; Congressional CC, Bethesda, Md.
- July 21-24: Amundi Evian Championship, 2022 champion: Brooke Henderson; Evian Resort GC, Evian-les-Bains, France
- Aug. 4-7: AIG Women's Open at Muirfield, East Lothian, Scotland (defending champ: Anna Nordqvist)
This year marks the first AIG Women's Open to be played at Muirfield, which has hosted 16 Open Championships (most recently in 2013 when Phil Mickelson won), 11 Amateur Championships, two Walker Cups, one Ryder Cup (1973) and one Senior Open Championship (2007).
Par is 72 (36-36), with scorecard yardage for the tournament stretching to 6,680 yards. Of note, Muirfield features 147 bunkers and no water hazards, with the greens, tees, fairways and rough comprised of bent grass and fescue.
While the club was founded in 1744, the course opened in 1891 with 16 holes originally designed by Tom Morris Sr. The course consisted of 117 acres enclosed by a stone wall, and the layout was expanded to 18 holes in 1892 – just in time to host its first Open Championship and first R&A championship that same year. Of note, the 1892 Open also marked the first year the event was contested over 72 holes, and in 1966, Muirfield also became the site of the first Open that was played over four days.
Notable amateurs in the field
Like the other women's majors, amateurs get their chance to shine next to the pros, and this year's group features:
- Mizuki Hashimoto (Japan), 2021 Women's Amateur Asia-Pacific champion
- Valery Plata (Colombia), 2021 Women's Amateur Latin America champion
- Rose Zhang (USA), 2021 McCormack Medal winner
- Jess Baker (England), 2022 Women's Amateur champion
- Savannah De Bock (Belgium), 2022 European Ladies' Amateur champion
- Anna Davis (USA), 2022 Augusta National Women's Amateur champion
- Caley McGinty (England), 2022 highest WAGR-ranked GB&I player
How to watch the 2022 Women's Open (all times ET)
- Thursday: 6 a.m.-1 p.m., USA
- Friday: 6 a.m.-1 p.m., USA
- Saturday: 8 a.m.-noon, USA; noon-3 p.m., NBC
- Sunday: 8 a.m.-noon, USA; noon-3 p.m., NBC
Streaming: News and tournament action from the AIG Women's Open is available any time on any mobile device and online through NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
The NBC golf research team contributed to this report.