Tour Confidential: Who will prevail at the U.S. Women’s Open?

Hinako Shibuno

Hinako Shibuno hits a shot on the 3rd hole at Champions Golf Club on Saturday.

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Editor’s note: Tour Confidential, like the U.S. Women’s Open, has been postponed, and will instead be published in this space on Monday evening. To tide you over, here’s a special-edition Tour Confidential Daily. And you can join he conversation by tweeting us @golf_com

Monday golf! The final round of the U.S. Women’s Open was postponed due to day-long storms in the Houston area. Eighteen players never teed off on Sunday, and Hinako Shibuno leads by one over Amy Olson and by three over Moriya Jutanugarn and Ji Yeong Kim2. Lots of other contenders are lurking, too. Who wins come Monday (coverage begins at 9 a.m. ET on Golf Channel) and why?

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Josh Sens, senior writer (@JoshSens): Call me Ko-dependent, because I’m going more with my heart than my head at this point. But I’m sticking with my pre-tournament pick of Lydia Ko. Love her attitude and the way her game has rounded into shape, and I’m counting on her conjuring some old magic to leapfrog the small handful of players ahead of her.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer: Amy Olson. She’s from North Dakota. Forty-nine and windy will look like a pleasant May day to her.

Josh Berhow, managing editor (@Josh_Berhow): One under after one? It was an ideal start for Ariya Jutanugarn on Sunday, who birdied the par-4 1st hole before play was called. Sure, it’s never ideal to halt a surging golfer, but that lone birdie could also work as a nice confidence booster to sleep on. She’ll start Monday just four off the lead and can get in the clubhouse with a good number and put the pressure on everyone else. She certainly has the experience, with two major titles and 10 top 10s in her major career.

Zephyr Melton, assistant editor (@zephyrmelton): Smiling Cinderella! Hinako Shibuno has been outstanding this week, and based on my chat with her Sunday afternoon, the stage doesn’t seem too big for her. With a lead heading into Monday’s bonus golf, I’ll take the odds that we see that beaming smile lifting the trophy by day’s end. She’d solidify Lydia Ko’s assertion that she’s a “smiling assassin” if she were to pull it off.

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Alan Bastable, executive editor (@alan_bastable): I’m with our man on the ground. To be fair, we haven’t seen enough of Shibuno’s game stateside to pass any calculated judgment on how Monday might go for her, but certainly no reason to doubt her ability to close until she gives us one. That Ko line about Shibuno was arguably the quote of the week: “I feel like it’s either a great poker face or she’s [a] smiling assassin.”

Rachel Bleier, social media editor (@Rachel_Bleier): Sens might be Ko-dependent, but I’m Ko-razy. Lydia’s game looks solid, and she’s the only one on the leaderboard to have finished inside the Top 20 in every other major this year. When Melton and I spoke with her yesterday, she was just as relaxed and confident as the smiling assassin she’s chasing. So I can’t wait to watch Ko hoist that oversized trophy. 

Nick Piastowski, senior editor (@nickpia): Olson. Being from the Midwest myself, I totally agree with Bamberger. Olson’s been knocking on the door for a while. It finally opens. 

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