DULUTH, GA., JULY 11 -- Pick a name. Any name.

How about defending champion Betsy King? Or leading 1990 money-winner Patty Sheehan? Pat Bradley? Nancy Lopez?

"It's very hard to pick a winner," said Amy Alcott, herself a strong choice to win the U.S. Women's Open, which begins here Thursday. "There's so much depth on the tour now. The players are so much stronger."

Alcott has struggled this year, but she has been playing better lately and has won the Open before.

"I'm 30 something on the money list, but I'd pick myself as a definite favorite," said Alcott, who is 33rd in LPGA tour earnings with $65,691, including a second-place finish two weeks ago. "You have to go with the people who are playing well, like Pat Bradley, Patty Sheehan and Betsy King. Still, you never know.'

Bradley and Sheehan are three-time winners on the tour this year and King, dominant in 1989, is fourth on the 1990 money list at $276,431.

The field of 156, including 25 amateurs, will compete on the 6,298-yard, par-72 Riverside course at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Alcott, 33, who won the Open in 1980, has four major titles among her 28 LPGA victories, two shy of entrance to the Hall of Fame.

"Getting into the Hall is important," she said. "It's tough getting into, because it's not like baseball, where you're voted in. You have to get those 30 victories. It's kind of controversial. Some say it's too hard.

"To my way of thinking, I'm in the Hall of Fame regardless if I hit a golf ball again. But I'd like to do it officially. It's not something I think about every day or every week, but I do think about it."

Bradley, with 26 victories, also thinks about it.

"I've got three already this year," said Bradley, 39. "Maybe I can get one or two more this year and one or two next year. It's a motivational point. It kind of makes it more fun."

As for capturing another Open, 1981 champion Bradley is upbeat despite a slight back injury.

"I've been a little tentative, but I think I'll hold my own," she said.

As for a favorite, Bradley likes Sheehan, King or Beth Daniel.

"You have to focus on Patty Sheehan, who has been playing very well, or Betsy King; Beth also has been playing very well," said Bradley. "And I'm sure Lopez is biting the bullet, wondering if this is her week."