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Monday, 19 November, 2018

Sister act can get the job done in Chicago

Jutanugarns the pick of the crop

Moriya Jutanugarn has a great chance this week
1 of 1

Live on Sky Sports 4, 5.30pm Thursday
Tournament starts 12.30pm

The weekend Walmart victory by So Yeon Ryu has hoisted the Korean star to world number one and she now sets off on the Grand Slam trail having already won the opening Major of the year, The Inspiration, in April.

Her immediate target: the Women's PGA Championship at Olympia Fields on the outskirts of Chicago.

This is the tournament 18-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson pinched from under the nose of the then number one, Lydia Ko, with some amazing putting followed by a fabulous iron shot in the play-off. Henderson is back in the picture after her mid-June win at the Meijer Classic.

Ko, no longer a teenager, lost that ranking after 85 weeks to Ariya Jutanugarn earlier this month. It is almost a year since Ko won anything while Jutanugarn has mopped up six victories including her first major, the British Open at Woburn, and her first of 2017 two weeks ago.

The Thai powerhouse will be miffed that her tenure at number one lasted all of two weeks until Ryu stole her thunder. Victory on Sunday would restore the top spot and she's in great form after outlasting Lexi Thompson and In-gee Chun in a play-off for the Manulife Classic.

Thompson has been playing better than anybody but not getting the results she deserved, most notably at The Inspiration where she was cruelly landed with a four-shot penalty for a retrospective rules error when midway through her final round. Even with that burden, she reached a playoff but lost out to Ryu.

So now we have Ryu, Jutanugarn, Thompson, Henderson and Chun all at the top of their game, Ko not so much, and a classic golf course they know little about.

Thompson, the 9-1 favourite, is the only one not available at double-figure odds. Tee to green she is magnificent but has proved fragile on the greens under pressure.

Not even mentioned yet are Michelle Wie, Shanshan Feng, Stacy Lewis, our own star Charley Hull, and the truly great InBee Park, seven-time major winner and Olympic gold medallist.

It is truly a feast and difficult for anybody else to gatecrash the party although Sung Hyun Park, the best golfer on the Korean circuit and runner-up to Chun in the Evian last autumn, is a dangerous floater.

Even so, I'm chasing a bit of value in putting up Jutanugarn's older but very much smaller sister Moriya - she's only 5ft 1in - as a decent each-way bet at 28-1.

She has just finished joint runner-up to Ryu in Arkansas which makes her last four form figures 2-4-7-6. The drawback is she's a non-winner but others have made a major their first win and Ariya is amazed how well Moriya is playing.

Amy Yang, who shared the number two spot with Moriya on Sunday and has already struck once this year with a five-shot victory over Ryu in Thailand, and Wie, who made the frame with two tremendous closing rounds at the weekend for her third consecutive top-four finish, are 33-1 shots not without a serious chance.

Ariya Jutanugarn is hard to resist at 12-1 and a sister act one-two is not out of the question.

Recommendations
M Jutanugarn
2pts each-way at 28-1 general
A Jutanugarn
1.5pts each-way at 12-1 Betfred
M Wie
1pt each-way at 33-1 general
InBee Park
1pt each-way at 16-1 Paddy Power, Skybet
A Yang
0.5pt each-way at 33-1 general


The lowdown

Course Olympia Fields Country Club, Olympia Fields, Illinois
Prize money $3.5m ($525,000 to the winner)
Length 6,588 yards Par 71 Field 156

When to bet By 12.30pm Thursday
Where to watch Sky Sports 4 from 5.30pm

Time difference Illinois is six hours behind UK and Ireland

Last week - Walmart Championship 1 So Yeon Ryu 2 Amy Yang, Moriya Jutanugarn, T4 Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie

Course overview Traditional layout, opened in 1915 and designed by dual Open champion Willie Park Jr, gives everyone a chance. Host to two US Opens, two USPGA Championships and a US Senior Open, but nothing recent apart from the 2015 US Amateur.

It's part of a huge four-course complex 32 miles from Chicago. If the courses have a Scottish feel to them, it wouldn't be the biggest surprise as three Scots designed all four

Weather forecast Threat of thunder and lightning for day one and a rain theme for remainder of the championship although Saturday may get off lightly. It will be warm, up to 30C

Story of last year Canadian teenager Brooke Henderson stole it from world number one Lydia Ko with some extraordinary putting at Sammamish, near Seattle, although it was only a three-footer for birdie in their play-off that clinched the deal

Type of player suited to challenge Short by today's standards, Olympia Fields still holds its own against modern technology and will test every part of the game

Key attribute Accuracy

It is almost a year since Ko won anything while Jutanugarn has mopped up six victories including her first major
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