Players and Storylines to Watch at the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open

Examining the top storylines, players to watch, notes on Lancaster Country Club, and more as we preview the 2024 U.S. Women's Open.


It’s time for the biggest event in women’s golf: the U.S. Women’s Open.

We previewed the big storyline, offered some key names to watch, and highlighted some course notes to watch. It promises to be a great week at Lancaster, assuming you’re up for navigating the Peacock-USA-NBC gauntlet.

The Basics

Where: Lancaster Country Club, Lancaster, PA

How to Watch: Featured group coverage begins Thursday morning on Peacock, with the main broadcast beginning at noon Eastern on the streaming service before moving to USA at 2 p.m.

The Favorites: Nelly Korda (+350), Rose Zhang (+1600), Atthaya Thitikul (+2000), Jin Young Ko (+2500), Brooke Henderson (+2500), Ayaka Furue (+2500)

The Course: A William Flynn design, Lancaster Country Club hosted the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open. You can take a front-nine tour via our Twitter thread here, and we have more thoughts on the course below.

Notable Thursday Tee Times:

8:13 a.m. – Nelly Korda/Nasa Hataoka/Megan Khang

8:24 a.m. – Lydia Ko/Charley Hull/Jin Young Ko

1:58 p.m. – Lexi Thompson/Rose Zhang/Minjee Lee

2:09 p.m. – Brooke Henderson/Yuka Saso/Hannah Green

2:20 p.m. – Alison Lee/Hae Ran Ryu/Lauren Coughlin

Nelly Korda, after winning her first major of the year. (photo credit: Getty, LPGA)

What a Nelly Win Would Mean

By Will Knights

Unlike men’s golf, there is no debate in the women’s game as to what championship you’d most want to win. There are no green jackets to consider, no Old Tom Morrises to think about. The U.S. Women’s Open is the pinnacle of the women’s game, the event every player covets most. And so the idea that the most important championship in a sport could be boiled down to a singular storyline at the beginning of the week is, on its face, absurd. But that’s nonetheless what we have to start the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open.

You’re going to read a lot about Nelly Korda being the favorite this week. It’s no secret that she arrives at Lancaster in the midst of a historic season, dominating in a way very few have in golf’s history. But here’s the thing: if Nelly Korda had zero wins on the season and was in mildly good form heading into this week, she would still be considered the favorite. 

I’ve spent the better part of the last month trying to convince myself that Nelly Korda won’t win at Lancaster Country Club. It seems too unreasonable for the best player in both the men’s and women’s game to go out and win the biggest events on the calendar. But as with Scottie Scheffler and Augusta National, Nelly Korda’s game lines up too well with Lancaster. A brawny golf course, Lancaster handsomely rewards those with strong tee-to-green games and high ball flights. Guess who has both? With those attributes and her newly improved short game and putting, it really feels like Nelly controls her own destiny.

Readers of this newsletter may be tired of hearing about Nelly Korda, but it is undeniable that she is the story until proven otherwise. More importantly, the U.S. Women’s Open is a chance for Nelly to really step out into the national spotlight. As Meg Adkins wrote on Monday, Nelly’s historic season has largely been contained within the golf ecosystem. A win at Lancaster Country Club not only gives her the most notable women’s title of the year, it means that she would have won the first two majors of the season. Six wins and a major is incredible, but seven wins and the first two majors of the year should be (and likely would be) national sports news.

It all feels too good to be true. And yet, at the same time, it also feels inevitable.

Rose Zhang, one of the only tournament winners in recent memory not named Nelly (photo credit: Getty, LPGA)

Three Non-Nelly Contenders

By Meg Adkins

Exactly one year ago, Rose Zhang was set to make her first professional start at the Mizuho Americas Open. Her ANWA win and successful defense of her NCAA individual title in the weeks prior made realistic and reasoned predictions for her debut few and far between. No bother to Rose though. All she did was go out and make the wildest of conjectures look prescient with a playoff victory over fellow ANWA winner Jennifer Kupcho. Just like that, Rose Zhang was off to the races. Top tens in majors, a Solheim Cup appearance, a spot in the most recent edition of The Match, and a second win would all come in the months that followed. Toss in an extended break from golf while taking a full course load at Stanford, and it’s been a whirlwind of a year for Rose. Somehow she has her game peaking in time for the biggest week of the year, as that second win came just three weeks ago when she and Madelene Sagstrom lapped the field at the Cognizant Founders Cup. A virus took away her chance at defending at Mizuho the following week, but with plenty of time off to recover, expect Rose to thrive this week on yet another big stage.

If this wasn’t The Year of Nelly, Hannah Green would be far and away the favorite this week. Two LPGA wins and going toe-to-toe with Nelly at Mizuho have Green bursting with confidence. While finishing second-best always stings, Green did admit that coming in just behind a dominant Nelly felt “quite nice”. With the added stakes of a major this week, though, another close call certainly wouldn’t feel as good. On top of playing some of the best golf of her career, Lancaster holds a special place for Green. She was outside the ropes in 2015 watching fellow Aussie Karrie Webb contend. Speaking after that second place finish at Mizuho, Green said that trip to Lancaster for an Open as a spectator was what motivated her to become a professional. Nine years later she has a great chance of becoming the fourth Australian woman to win the U.S. Women’s Open.

The record setting crowds at Lancaster in 2015 got to witness a 17-year-old Brooke Henderson climb the leaderboard with a Sunday 66 that was good for a top-five finish. Nearly a decade later, Henderson’s got plenty of experience and two majors under her belt. She’s also got a handful of high finishes so far this year, including a T-3 at Chevron. Her game is well-rounded, as she’s currently sixth in total strokes gained for the year. The strength of her driver is where she’s improved the most from last year, going from 32nd to 13th in the Strokes Gained: Driving category. The good news for her is that Lancaster will require accuracy and power off the tee with narrow fairways and a course stretched out over 6,500 yards. In order for her to grab her third major, though, Henderson will need a good week with the putter. That’s her worst category statistically; she currently ranks 43rd.

No. 16 at Lancaster (photo credit: Fried Egg Golf)

Course Notes to Watch

By Will Knights

While I don’t completely trust NBC to provide excellent coverage this week, we do have four days of live television and additional streaming coverage on tap from Lancaster Country Club. Here are a few things about the golf course for which to keep an eye out:

Going up – William Flynn believed golf should be an athletic endeavor, and Lancaster certainly embraces that ethos. Once players reach the eighth tee, nine of their remaining 11 approaches will be uphill, with the only reprieves coming on Nos. 12 and 17. Not only is this tiring, but it requires approach shots to come in with a steep angle of descent if they are to hold the green. Expect those with low ball flights to have some trouble this week.

Careful of the draw – There are three approach shots at Lancaster — Nos. 2, 11, and 15 — in which I expect a lot of players to have the ball above their feet, encouraging the ball to go long and left. The issue is that a long-left miss on all of these holes is deadly. All three will offer revealing looks at who can best shape and control their ball.

Eye candy – There is no doubt that the par-4 16th (pictured above) will receive endless attention this week. The mid-length hole is quite pleasing to the eye. But what I’m most focused on is the number of players who attempt to push their drives into the narrow portion of this fairway. I don’t think many men would attempt the shot if this was a U.S. Open, but the precision of the top LPGA Tour players makes this tee shot very intriguing.

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.