Eric Bolte, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jin Young Ko
There have been only a handful of times I can remember when someone has been so dominant on the LPGA Tour that it was really hard to pick anyone else among the competition.
There was the Annika Sorenstam era, featuring arguably the best golfer in tour history. Then, there was Yani Tseng’s absurd stretch of wins and Lydia Ko’s pure dominance a few years back before both players seemingly fell to the wayside in the win column.
Now, Jin Young Ko has taken her spot at the top of the women’s game and is putting together one of the best seasons in tour history. The South Korean, who was the LPGA Rookie of the Year last season, stormed her way to her fourth win of the campaign last week at the CP Women’s Open in Canada.
Ko, who captured two major championships this season with wins at the AIG Women’s British Open and ANA Inspiration, already has six titles and 25 career Top 10 finishes in barely two seasons on tour.
And because of that prowess, Ko is the huge favorite at a consensus 4-1 odds entering this week’s Cambia Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Oregon. Two-time event winner Brooke Henderson is next at 8-1 odds, followed by Ariya Jutanugarn and Sung Hyun Park both coming in at 10-1.
There is no chance I would ever play anyone sitting at Ko’s number, so we are looking elsewhere for more value on the board.
Brooke Henderson (8-1)
Talk about a great track record at this event. The Canadian has won this event twice, going back to back in 2016 and 2017, and likely comes into the state of Oregon with a chip on her shoulder after finishing tied for third on home soil in last week’s CP Women’s Open.
Henderson, the No. 8-ranked player in the world, is seeking her third title of the season and first since her victory at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give in June. This number is probably a tad too low, but good enough to make her the premier play of the tournament.
Ariya Jutanugarn (10-1)
My top pick of the week comes via Jutanugarn, who is fresh off a ninth-place finish at the CP Women’s Open.
What is truly amazing is the fact the Thai star, who is ranked No. 6 in the latest Rolex rankings, is winless this season and hopes to get off the snide in her quest for that 11th career tour win. Jutanugarn has finished in the Top 5 or better in four of her last six starts as well, making her ripe for another championship run here in Oregon.
Carlota Ciganda (14-1)
The Spaniard comes into this week in great form, most recently earning a share of fifth place at the CP Women’s Open. Ciganda, ranked No. 12 in the world, finished seventh at the AIG Women’s British Open and 10th at The Evian Championship for Top 10 efforts in the final major events of the season.
It is hard to believe Ciganda has only won twice so far in her decorated career, which includes 37 Top 10 finishes as well. This could be the week Ciganda puts it all together for another win.
Lexi Thompson (16-1)
Midway through the season, Thompson was the hottest player not named Jin Young Ko on the tour. That has changed, though, with Thompson not playing her best golf in recent starts.
The American put together for decent (but not great) rounds at the CP Women’s Open, where she finished tied for 20th place. A week before that, the third-ranked player in the world secured a tie for 16th place at the AIG Women’s Open. The week before, she missed the cut at The Evian Championship.
Thompson is definitely hoping to get back to her previous form, with the Solheim Cup looming and so much on the line when the United States takes on Europe.
Brittany Altomare (40-1)
The American, who made the American Solheim Cup squad, is still seeking her first career tour win and I like her chances entering this event. Altomare wound up T13 at the CP Women’s Open and closed with a final-round 68 at the tournament. This is one of those players who has jumped on my radar late in the season and the number is right when it comes to this play.
Mirim Lee (50-1)
This hasn’t been the best of seasons for Lee, who comes into the tournament off a T64 effort in Canada. However, the South Korean has found success at this event in the past. Lee has finished inside the Top 10 at this event (T5 in 2017; and, T9 in 2018) and could be in the title hunt once again.
Amy Olson (80-1)
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Olson should be bringing that attitude and demeanor into this event after being left off the Solheim Cup roster for the United States by captain Juli Inkster. Olson, who finished tied for seventh at the CP Women’s Open and sits 45th in the latest Rolex rankings, should have landed one of the two wild-card spots and will be looking for something to prove this week.
Ariya Jutanugarn (-125) over Sung Hyun Park
Going with Jutanugarn in a battle of former world No. 1 players. The Thai standout comes into this event in better form, making her the play in this matchup.
Brooke Henderson (+110) over Jin Young Ko
Ko does earn the nod in this marquee matchup, but not at this number. Henderson knows the ins and outs of this course, unlike Ko, who has never competed in this event. Give me the Canadian at this number.
Amy Olson (+185) over Georgia Hall and Stacy Lewis
You have to think Olson is going to make this a match-play situation with Lewis, who was picked over her for one of the final two Solheim Cup spots on the American team. Give me an angry Olson against two foes she can and will outplay at the start of things.