Golf: Ko, Henderson and Thompson top US Open bill

Lydia Ko of New Zealand is in the first two rounds of next week’s 71st US Women’s Open.
Lydia Ko of New Zealand is in the first two rounds of next week’s 71st US Women’s Open.PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - World number one Lydia Ko of New Zealand will play alongside Canada's second-ranked Brooke Henderson and fourth-ranked American Lexi Thompson in the first two rounds of next week's 71st US Women's Open.

Pairings released Thursday by the US Golf Association put the world's three top-rated healthy players in the same group that tees off the 10th hole Thursday at 2.03pm among the opening day's final trios and Friday at 8.28am off the first hole at CordeValle in San Martin, California.

World number three Park In-Bee of South Korea has withdrawn from the event with a left thumb injury.

Ko, 19, won back-to-back LPGA major titles at the 2015 Evian Championship and this year's ANA Inspiration but her bid for three in a row was thwarted when Henderson beat her with a birdie on the first playoff hole to win the Women's PGA Championship on June 12.

The Kiwi teen has four titles this year including her major in April, the Kia Classic warm-up event one week earlier, last week's Northwest Arkansas Championship and the New Zealand Women's Open, which she captured for the third time in four years.

Henderson, 18, won her only LPGA title other than her first major at last year's Portland Classic, a crown she is defending this week ahead of her bid for back-to-back major victories. Henderson shared fifth at last year's US Women's Open, just as she had at last year's Women's PGA before claiming the crown this year.

Thompson, 21, won her only major title at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship, which last year became known as the ANA Inspiration. She has top-10 finishes in eight of the past 13 women's majors. She was seventh at the US Women's Open two years ago for her best result but last year shared 42nd, her worst showing in the event.

Defending champion Chun In-Gee, the world number six from South Korea, was matched for the first two rounds alongside 2015 US Women's Amateur champion Hannah O'Sullivan, the Singapore-born American who tops the world women's amateur rankings, and ninth-ranked American Stacy Lewis, who was the 2014 US Women's Open runner-up and who shared third last year.