Brooke Henderson will be a notable participant in this year's U.S. Women's Open in San Martin. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Budding rivalry takes center stage at U.S. Women’s Open

The U.S. Women’s Open returns to California this weekend for the first time since 1982.

This year marks the first time in its history it will be played in the Bay Area. The third major championship of the season will be hosted by CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin from today through Sunday.

All eyes will be trained on the budding rivalry between teenage phenoms Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson, who are currently first and second in the Women’s World Golf Rankings.

The two have split the season’s first two majors, with Ko winning the ANA Inspiration in April and Henderson edging out Ko on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Women’s PGA Championship last month.

Overall, 156 players from 25 countries will be competing in the LPGA’s oldest championship.

The field is packed with the biggest names in women’s golf; 23 of the top 25 players in the world will tee it up today.

Defending champion In-gee Chun will look to be the first to win back-to-back Opens since Karrie Webb in 2000 and 2001. Webb, who has seven major titles but none since 2006, is also in the field.

Along with Ko and Henderson, LPGA Tour rookie Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand enters as one of the hottest players in the field, having won three consecutive tournaments in May. She’ll be looking for her first major championship win.

Also looking for her first major title will be San Jose native and fan favorite Christina Kim. Known for her braided pigtails, backwards Kangol hats and playful personality on the course, Kim is sure to have one of the larger followings this weekend.

Paula Creamer, a Pleasanton native and 2010 U.S. Women’s Open champion, will also hope for some hometown magic as she looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2015 and start to 2016 that has resulted in a change of swing instructors for the first time in her professional career.

Aside from the big names, there are 25 amateurs competing in this year’s Open. Among them is this year’s youngest qualifier, 14-year-old Karah Sanford of Escondido. The only amateur to ever win an LPGA major championship was Catherine Lacoste, who won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1962.

This will be the first major championship of any sort held at CordeValle. It is not, however, unfamiliar with professional tournaments, having previously hosted the Frys.com Open on the PGA Tour from 2010 to 2013.

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