U.S. Women’s Open conducted by the USGA
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
June 26, 2013
One of the most anticipated events of the season is finally here as the LPGA Tour heads to Southampton, N.Y. for the 68th playing of the U.S. Women’s Open conducted by the USGA. Sebonack Golf Club will be the backdrop for the season’s third major and will feature 156 of the world’s most talented golfers. The third of five majors this year on the LPGA provides one of the largest paychecks this season with $585,000 going to the champion.
Nestled on the Peconic Bay in eastern Long Island, the Sebonack Golf Club will suite any golfer’s eye with wide fairways and expansive bunkers, but the challenge comes on its tricky greens and pin positions. This week’s U.S. Women’s Open marks this first golf championship the course has played host to since it opened in 2006.
Last year’s U.S. Women’s Open was played at Blackwolf Run Golf Course in Kohler, Wis., where Rolex Rankings No. 4 Na Yeon Choi defeated fellow South Korean Amy Yang by four strokes. She became the second South Korean to win the Open at Blackwolf, which played host to the event in 1998 when Se Ri Pak began a golf revolution in her country following her victory in an 18-hole playoff. Both will be in Southampton this week seeking their second U.S. Women’s Open title.
The U.S. Women’s Open was established in 1946 and is the longest running women’s championship. This year’s champ will join a legacy of winner’s including LPGA greats like Annika Sorenstam, Laura Davies, Mickey Wright, Louise Suggs, Babe Zaharias and many others.
Record-breaker…Juli Inkster, who turned 53 on Monday, will be making her record-setting 34th appearance at the U.S. Women’s Open when she tees it up at Sebonack Golf Club this week. This appearance by Inkster breaks Marlene Hagge’s previous record of 33 appearances.
Inkster, a two-time winner of the U.S. Women’s Open, was given a special exemption by the USGA to play in this year’s tournament and she’s looking forward to having another opportunity to play in this special event.
“I just love the U.S. Open,” Inkster said. “Growing up that was the championship everybody wanted to win, so just being able to win it twice is a great thrill. The USGA gave me a special exemption to play this year, and I want to thank them for that. So I'm looking forward to playing. It's a great golf course. It's tough. It's going to be a good test. So we'll see what happens.
Local knowledge: 16-year-old amateur Lydia Ko might have a little advantage this week at Sebonack Golf Club thanks to her caddie. Sebonack assistant pro Louis deKerillis will be carrying Ko’s bag this week for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open. Ko said that she was given a recommendation for deKerillis and she was happy to get a little local knowledge on her side for the week.
“The head pro here, Jason, he is a New Zealander, so we kind of got to know him first, and then he connected us with Louis,” Ko said. “Yeah, he's definitely very helpful. It's not like my home course out here, so I don't know everything but for him. It is pretty much his home course. So, yeah, he knows the course way better than me, especially when it gets, you know -- when I'm in pressure mode, I think that's when he'll help the most.
A new kind of 15: Lydia Ko became the youngest winner in LPGA history at the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open at the age of 15. It was the same age that LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli Inkster first picked up the game of golf. Certainly a different experience for the two players at the same age and the 53-year-old Inkster acknowledged that things are very different now in the women’s game.
“Most of these girls are starting off really young playing, and by the time they get out here, they've played ten years of competitive golf, and now you're asking them to play another ten years or whatever,” Inkster said. “It's just a lot of golf, a lot of wear and tear on your body. I didn't even start playing until I was 15. So I think it's just different times and a lot of different great players coming from all over the world.”
It’s all in the greens: Sebonack Golf Club provides ample fairways for players off the tee but the consensus from those in the field this week has been that the key will be to figure out the difficult greens.
Suzann Pettersen came out to Sebonack in the days before last week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. Her takeaway was that it will take precise shots into the greens in order to be successful.
“People are talking about these greens being very big, I actually find them very small,” said Pettersen. “Because if you're looking at the sections you're hitting it into and where you really want to be, they're fairly small and you've got to be really precise. This is what I feel having played it now almost four times. You get to learn the contours of the greens and you can see how to use it to access certain pins.
“The first time I saw this, I was almost overwhelmed how tricky it was. It was a lot to take in the first time around. But the more you play it, the more you fall in love with it, and I'm looking forward to a test.”
Heading West in ’16: The USGA announced Wednesday that the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open will be held at CordeValle in San Martin, California. It will mark the first time since 1982 that the U.S. Women’s Open will be played in California and it’s the first time that the event has been held in the Northern California area.
Sisters in the Open: Sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda are both in the U.S. Women’s Open field this week at Sebonack Golf Club. Jessica, 20, is a current member of the LPGA Tour while Nelly, 14, was the medalist at the West Palm Beach qualifying site. Nelly is the youngest player in the field. The Kordas are the daughters of former professional tennis player Petr Korda, who won the 1998 Australian Open. The Kordas are also the seventh set of sisters to compete in the same U.S. Women’s Open.
Danielle and Dina Ammaccapane – 1991-93, 1996, 1998-99, 2001-02
Alice Bauer and Marlene Bauer Hagge – 1947, 1949-55, 1957-58, 1964, 1966
Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn – 2011
Jessica and Nelly Korda – 2013
Aree and Naree Song – 2003, 2005
Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam – 1997, 1999-2005
Hollis Stacy and Martha Stacy Leach – 1980
Quotable: “I would say when you don't play, don't play. Just get away from it. Do something that you're really passionate about, whether it's just laying on the couch or shopping or working with a charity or getting involved in something else.” – Juli Inkster’s advice to young players on how not to get burnt out.
Tweet of the Day: “Sebonack is the child of St. Andrews and Augusta with the views of Evian mixed in. Such a nice track.” -- @SophieGustafson
Of Note: The 2013 U.S. Women’s Open will be the 67th USGA championship conducted in New York and the first one hosted by Sebonack Golf Club…A total of 10 former U.S. Women’s Open champions are in the field this week…A total of 22 countries are represented in this week’s field.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Good morning, everyone. Welcome back on a Wednesday morning to Sebonack Golf Club. The 68th playing of the U.S. Women's Open. Very happy to have Suzann Pettersen. Suzann's competing in her 11th Women's Open with her best finish a tie for second in 2010 at Oakmont. We were just saying you're fairly new to the course. Played nine over the last two days. Tell us what you think about it out there.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: This is a course that really grows on you. It feels like a links course. The more you play it, the more you get to know it, the more you kind of get a feel for it.
I was here Monday, Tuesday of last week before we played in Arkansas just to get away from everybody, play the course in more quiet surroundings. Just was able to do all the stuff that I wanted to do.
So this week is more just getting the fine tune. Again, getting the feel for the course. It feels like the course has firmed up a lot, obviously, with this hot weather. The greens are getting fast and firm, and the fairways are getting quite hard, so I hope this is the way it's going to be playing.
Q. You always seem to be in the hunt here at the Women's Open. What is it about this championship that seems to agree with you so much?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I just think for me personally the U.S. Open is like the ultimate test of the year. I think the way USGA sets up the course, you've got to be able to -- they would give you a challenge right in front of your face, and you'd never really know what to predict. I usually always judge how they set up the course of how the men's U.S. Open has been played a couple of weeks prior, and having seen that, I expect the worst, so everything else will be a treat. I assume the hard holes will be playing hard, and the shorter, easy holes, they'll kind of let us have a go at. That's kind of how I prepare.
I like it when par is a good score. I like that fighting spirit and kind of -- I think everyone -- I mean, you're not going to play perfect golf out here, but if you can eliminate the big numbers I think you'll be fine.
Q. When you're assessing the golf course, particularly so many contours, how much of your preparation is technical in terms of numbers, GPS, yardage, slope? And how much of it is a sense of feel and sensibility about the place?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I think most people, as I said, off the tee this course is fairly generous compared to other U.S. Opens we've played. But I mean, people are talking about these greens being very big. I actually find them very small. Because if you're looking at the sections you're hitting it into and where you really want to be, they're fairly small and you've got to be really precise. This is what I feel having played it now almost four times. You get to learn the contours of the greens and you can see how to use it to access certain pins.
I mean, first time I saw this, I was almost overwhelmed how tricky it was. It was a lot to take in the first time around. But the more you play it, the more you fall in love with it, and I'm looking forward to a test.
Q. With regard to Inbee and the way she's playing, if we go back a decade or so, you've got Annika that went on that run, Lorena went on that run, and then Yani, of course. Does it look like Inbee is kind of on the way to that the way she's been playing? What is your impression of her?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean, Inbee has had a phenomenal year so far. It's not really very surprising that she keeps contending and makes those crucial putts on Sundays. The best part of her game is her putting.
I don't quite look at Inbee as dominating, if you want to call it that, as Annika was and Lorena was. I think there is very much a lot of us in the hunt for that No. 1. I don't really look at other players, how other players do. I know where I stand and I know what I have to do. If I look at my own game, I've been playing good in the tournaments I really want to play well in. If you keep winning tournaments, it will kind of take care of the rest of the stats.
Q. As a follow, because you've been playing for a bit and you play with a lot of these women, how difficult do you think in your mind is it to sustain those kind of runs like Yani was on and before Lorena and Annika?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know. I guess that is the beauty of this game. You can be in it for a long time. I mean, this is my 12th season, I think. There are different challenges. There are different motivations from year to year. You keep getting these young players to kind of push the boundaries, kind of take the game to the next level, which makes you work even harder. You want it even more. I think it's a good, fresh flow and kind of new players coming through who kind of bring some different elements into the game that kind of makes you, at least from my own part -- I mean, I usually live by if I'm not training, someone else is. I guess that's how you can put this.
CHRISTINA LANCE: How do you feel coming into this week?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I'm looking forward to getting started. This is obviously, like I said, one of my favorite tournaments of the year. I'm excited to get started. I'll probably feel a little bit more before I warm up tomorrow. That's obviously how it is. Having the tension, having a little bit of nervous kind of a feel is good because it means that you care. It means that you want to do well. I feel like I've done a lot of good stuff in my preparation. All I can do is to kind of ease up and try to play some good golf.
CHRISTINA LANCE: We are very happy to have here with us 1999 and 2002 U.S. Women's Open champion, Juli Inkster. Juli, it's a special week for you, competing in your 34th Women's Open, which breaks the record held by Marlene Hagge. What keeps you coming back for more?
JULI INKSTER: More punishment? I don't know. I just love the U.S. Open. Growing up that was the championship everybody wanted to win, so just being able to win it twice is a great thrill. The USGA gave me a special exemption to play this year, and I want to thank them for that. So I'm looking forward to playing.
It's a great golf course. It's tough. It's going to be a good test. So we'll see what happens.
Q. Just to follow up on that, what is it about the U.S. Open that makes it the one that you want to win most and everybody wants to win most?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think it tests all aspects of your game, not only your physical game, but your mental game. Can you go anywhere in the world, and if you say you've won the U.S. Open, everybody respects that and gets it. You know, wins are great, but if I never won a U.S. Open, I'd feel like my career is just not where it should be. But winning a U.S. Open, I lost in 1992 in a playoff, and then to be able to come back in '99 and win it, it was a great thrill for me.
Q. One of the things I'm interested in is how hard it is to not get to No. 1 in the world but to remain there, and I'm wondering if these days somehow it's different or harder than it used to be to sort of stay at No. 1 with the pressures? Any thoughts on that?
JULI INKSTER: Well, there are so many more players playing golf around the world. When I first started playing, mostly American-born citizens played golf. Girls, they went to college, four years of college, and then we came out and played and we played against each other. Now you've got I don't know how many countries that are on our TOUR, and we're getting the best of every country. That's a lot of great players. You know, I think injuries and passion for the game I think plays a big role.
Most of these girls are starting off really young playing, and by the time they get out here, they've played ten years of competitive golf, and now you're asking them to play another ten years or whatever. It's just a lot of golf, a lot of wear and tear on your body. I didn't even start playing until I was 15. So I think it's just different times and a lot of different great players coming from all over the world.
Q. As a follow-up to that, we've had a couple of very long-time champions. I mean, three, really, with Annika, and Lorena and Yani was No. 1 for a long time. How have they done it, do you think, and sustained No. 1 for that long?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think, number one, they're great players, and I think a lot of them had a lot of outside interests. I know Lorena Golf was what she did, it wasn't who she was. She had a lot of outside interests. Every time she'd come back, she'd come back fresh. Annika the same way. She had a lot of things going on.
I just think a lot of these girls, golf is what they do, and I think it's just really hard to sustain that.
Inbee is playing great right now, and she's just -- every week she's right in the hunt. They're just -- you know, Lorena, Yani, and -- you're going to have the exception to the rule. It's like a Tiger. He's an exception to the rule.
Q. If you were to give advice to, let's say, Inbee about how to sustain being No. 1, what would you tell her?
JULI INKSTER: I would say when you don't play, don't play. Just get away from it. Do something that you're really passionate about, whether it's just laying on the couch or shopping or working with a charity or getting involved in something else.
A lot of these girls, like Inbee, when we have a week off here, she goes over and plays in Japan, so they're playing a lot of golf. And I think sometimes you just kind of get burned out.
Q. What do you remember about that first Open when you were an amateur? Also being an amateur, what were your expectations going in?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I qualified when I was 18, so I had only been playing golf for three years. I had no expectations. I never really followed women's golf. I wasn't a big TV watcher, so I didn't know that much. It was in Indianapolis at Indianapolis Country Club.
The story I remember the most was going out to the range and seeing all brand-new Titleists. I was like, whoa. So every day I fleeced a few and put them in my bag and took them home (smiling).
But I remember seeing Nancy Lopez, and a JoAnne Carner, and I remember I shot 80 my first round, and then I shot 72 to make the cut, and then 72 something. So I played well. I just remember just how tough and challenging it was.
Q. You and your peers who won the U.S. Open were so inspirational to players all over the world, and now it's really caught on. It's like nine majors in a row won by players from Asia. What are your thoughts about the state of American golf, and what does that mean for the health of this sport?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I mean, it's just different cultures. I mean, I've raised two girls, and I had my girls in everything. They did dance, they did music, they did golf, they did basketball. I just kind of let them find their own path.
Over in Asia it's a little different. If the parents want the girls to play golf, they play golf, and they do it really well. They've got great training facilities over there, great teachers. It's just different.
I'm not saying my way is right. I'm not saying my way is wrong. I'm just saying it's two different cultures combined together, and the girls are just really good players. So I don't know. I don't know how to explain it, but they're born to win, and they do it well.
Q. I have an unrelated follow. I think Paula was in here and said that -- she was quoting you saying this part of the world, this part of Long Island especially, is like a golf paradise. What golf have you played around here and what do you think about this part of the country for golf?
JULI INKSTER: Well, being from the West Coast, I haven't played -- the only golf course I've played out here is Deepdale, and that was in a Pro-Am a long time ago. I've really never been to this part of Long Island. This is really my first experience out here. I've watched it on TV, but I haven't been out here playing.
Q. I was just curious if you could give us your first impressions of the course the first time you saw Sebonack and how much you've played since?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I came a couple weeks ago and played a couple days here. It's pretty generous off the tee. It's long. The greens are -- your approach shots and the greens are going to be where you're going to win the tournament. Depending what the wind does, it's going to be tough. It's going to be long, long hours out there. I haven't played it since then.
I played in the CVS Charity Classic on Monday and Tuesday, so I just got in last night. I'm going to go out there this afternoon and play.
But I mean, it's kind of out there in front of you. You've just got to kind of play the slopes and you've got to hit some accurate shots.
Q. Does it remind you of any other Open event?
JULI INKSTER: No, it's really different. The front side is really linksy, and the back side is a little more woodsy, kind of Monterey Peninsula-ish. So I think it's kind of two different golf courses meshed together. It's going to be interesting how it plays.
Q. You mentioned the charity event earlier this week. How do you adjust your practice when you play an event like that during Open week, and have you ever done that before?
JULI INKSTER: I have. You know, I got in here and did my homework, what I needed to do. I have to say I feel very rested and relaxed because I maybe just got in and haven't stressed out yet. So I feel like I'm playing pretty good. So I'm looking forward to playing.
CVS is a big sponsor of mine, and I really enjoy going up there and playing. Unfortunately it fell at a really bad time, but you kind of just deal with the cards you're dealt with and you go out there and make it the best you can.
Q. Another question about the greens here. Are there any comparable green complexes that you're familiar with like these greens that you've played in tournaments?
JULI INKSTER: No. They're unique, yeah. I'm glad I'm only playing them once a week. Or once a year, I should say. They're tough. I mean, you've got to just get them on the right side of the hole. Birdies are going to be tough, but that's usually the way the Opens are. You've just got to try to make par when you should make par and try to limit your mistakes.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the popularity of the women's game in this country now compared to when you first started playing?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think golf in general is very popular. I think our TV ratings are up. We're really popular over in Asia, Korea TV, Japan TV. I mean, we're more popular than the guys over there. We have a lot of good, young American players with Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda and Morgan and Paula. I think people rally behind them, and I think they get behind them. That's fun to see.
When I first came out, our TV wasn't as good, but we had a lot more American players, and I think a lot more people probably could relate to them.
I think it's kind of hard to differentiate one Kim to another. But being out here, I mean, they all have really different personalities, and they're a lot of fun. It's just hard for the American culture to get a grip on them.
Q. Yesterday we attended Paula Creamer's clinic, and she named you as one of her biggest golf idols. How can you describe your relationship with Paula and the other younger players?
JULI INKSTER: I have two girls, 23 and 19. So I relate really good to them. I don't give them my credit card, but they give me their credit card. But I have a good rapport with them. I've always kind of had an open door policy. Paula and Morgan and Natalie, some of those girls really took advantage of it. Played a lot of practice rounds with them. They just kind of picked my brain. I just kind of told them what I think helped me play out here. I have a lot of respect for them as players and as people.
They can go out and want to beat your brains out, but then they go home and they dress up and they like to have fun. They've got a lot of different things off the golf course they like to do. That was a big thing for me is find something else you like to do besides golf, and I think it will help your longevity.
I've played with Paula on Solheim Cups a lot, and when you play on a Solheim Cup you really bond. Paula reminds me a lot of my daughters, and I've just kind of treated her that way.
Q. Can you win this golf tournament? And before you answer that, would it take lightning in a bottle for that to happen?
JULI INKSTER: Maybe not lightning. No, I'm playing good. If I can just get out of my way and play, I think I'll be fine. The key to me is just kind of get off to a good start. Have a good Thursday. Just kind of slowly get in the hunt.
Come Sunday, if I'm in there, I think I have a great shot.
Q. You mentioned a couple of times that it's just so important to get away from golf when you're a golfer. What was it for you over the years? What got you away from it and cleared your head?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I had two kids, so that kind of -- I felt like I was wearing two hats all the time. But when I was their age, between 24 and 30, I loved to play any sport. I played on a basketball team, I played on a softball team. I just loved to stay busy doing different things.
I would still put my time in. If I took a week off, I would take the first four days off and then I'd practice a little bit. But I always tried to find something that I really enjoy. Now, sports is my big thing. I love going to any sporting event. I like to cook, and I like to work out, and I like to travel. With my kids being 23 and 19, I take some girl trips and we go to different places.
I just feel there is so much out there, and these girls have such a great opportunity to do different things in their life. I think they should do it.
CHRISTINA LANCE: We're here at Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, New York, for the 68th playing of the U.S. Women's Open. Our final pre-championship press conference, we have 2012 U.S. Women's Amateur Champion Lydia Ko with us. Thanks so much for coming. Just talking, 16 years old, already so successful, multiple professional wins, No. 1 ranked amateur TOUR in the world. What's the last year been like for you?
LYDIA KO: It's been pretty crazy and very hectic, but I think it's hopefully only the start of my career and success. Just because I've won a couple tournaments, I don't think it means I'm a huge star and stuff. So, yeah, I've got a long way to go. I need to continuously practice hard and work hard to become a good player.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Lydia, what are your thoughts about the golf course? I think you just played 18 holes. Tell us what you think about Sebonack.
LYDIA KO: This golf course, I think you need to be very creative out here. The greens are very tricky. I mean, this is what you expect at the Open. Yeah, you don't expect the women to shoot 20-under par and stuff. So it's going to be really hard, especially if the wind gets up, I think it will be even harder.
Q. I know you have an assistant pro on the bag. How helpful has he been in giving you some local knowledge? Did you choose him or did he choose you? How did that happen?
LYDIA KO: I guess we chose him. Yeah, the head pro here, Jason, he is a New Zealander, so we kind of got to know him first, and then he connected us with Louis. Yeah, he's definitely very helpful.
It's not like my home course out here, so I don't know everything but for him. It is pretty much his home course. So, yeah, he knows the course way better than me, especially when it gets, you know -- when I'm in pressure mode, I think that's when he'll help the most.
Q. You were the low amateur last year, Lydia. What kind of experience can you take from last year's Women's Open and maybe apply to this year?
LYDIA KO: Last year I was very nervous. I had the shakes on the first hole, but I think I'll be a little better this year. I played a couple other majors after the Open, so I think I'm kind of getting a little more used to it. Yeah, I'll definitely be nervous, but not terrified.
Q. What did winning those two professional tournaments do for your confidence? I mean, you won them after last year's Open, so does that -- do you come in here with a little bit more calm about yourself?
LYDIA KO: I played well last week, and I think that was the biggest boost because it's much closer to this event. I think coming off a really good week makes me most confident. But you never know what's going to happen.
Yes, I guess I'm playing pretty well, but I get nervous. When I'm in nervous positions, that's when you don't hit it as well as you want to. And I think that happens with all players. So, yeah, hopefully I can perform to what I can.
Q. You said this takes a creative player here. What is your creativity quotient like? What sort of a creative player are you?
LYDIA KO: I kind of -- half of my actual shots are pretty much know my caddie Louis's thoughts. He's like okay, hit it over there, and I hit it there. And that's been working so far. Yeah, he's the more creative one at the moment.
Q. Have you ever played on greens like these before, and I'm most curious about the distance of the golf course, is it playing long for you?
LYDIA KO: These greens are quite undulated pretty much. I don't think I've played on these undulated greens before. I've played on undulated greens, but not this much. Yeah, the course is long. It's much longer than the other tournaments I've played, but I think the wind will make it shorter or longer, and there are a couple of long holes out here.
Yeah, I was hitting like 3-wood into one hole yesterday, and I was hitting 6-iron today. So I think wind makes a huge difference.
Q. You're obviously used to scenic golf courses with Cape Kidnappers, and Kauri Cliffs and some of the beautiful resorts in your neck of the woods. Can you talk about being here on the east end of Long Island, and what your thoughts are? Have you heard anything about the Hamptons before coming here?
LYDIA KO: No, I didn't know what this area would be like. I only knew that Southampton and Hampton is quite a rich area. That's all I knew.
Yeah, I don't really get to play Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs much because it's kind of far away from where I'm based. But I think it's a really nice area here. Nice and quiet, and it's quite a nice golfing area too.
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Sebonack Golf Club and the 2013 U.S. Open Women's Championship. I'm Joe Goode, Managing Director of Communications for the United States Golf Association. Welcome. I'm pleased to be joined by a number of senior leaders from the USGA. From your right to left, USGA Vice-President and Chairman of the Championship Committee, Tom O'Toole; in the center, Jeff Hall, who is the Managing Director of USGA Rules Competition and Amateur Status; and to my far left, Dot Paluck, who is the chairman of the USGA Women's Committee. We're especially pleased to welcome the global golf community to picturesque Long Island for what will be another exciting U.S. Women's Open Championship.
The Women's Open celebrates the growing diversity of this great game and showcases the beauty of Sebonack and identifies the world's best in their pursuit of becoming America's champion.
It is now my pleasure to turn the program over to Dot Paluck, Chairman of the USGA Women's Committee.
DOT PALUCK: Thank you, Joe. And good morning, everyone. On behalf of the USGA's 700,000 members and staff, we are pleased to welcome you to Sebonack Golf Club, and to present to you the 68th edition of the U.S. Women's Open Championship.
The United States Golf Association has promoted women's golf since 1895, when it hosted the first U.S. Women's Amateur Championship at the Meadow Brook Club in Hempstead, New York one year after the USGA was founded. Today that legacy of support remains strong, with the USGA conducting six National Championships exclusively for women, including the U.S. Women's Open.
We all remember last year's championship when Na Yeon Choi of Korea managed to adapt to the challenge of Blackwolf Run for a four-stroke victory over compatriot Amy Yang. It was an historic moment to see Na Yeon hoist the same trophy on the same green as her role model, Se Ri Pak, did 14 years earlier, a win that caused a surge of inspiration in young women across Korea to pursue a career in professional golf.
Indeed, the U.S. Women's Open is truly a global platform for the game of golf. Today the Women's Open reflects a game increasing in diversity with a field of players representing 22 countries, including a talented roster from the United States. The field ranges in age from 14-year-old Nelly Korda, competing in her first Women's Open, to 53-year-old Juli Inkster, a five-time USGA champion, who is competing in her record 34th Women's Open.
Since its founding in 1946, there has been lots of history, tremendous growth, and much change in the U.S. Women's Open, but the most critical ingredients remain constant. The Women's Open continues to serve as the premier venue for women's championships in the game, testing the finest players in the world on the finest courses in America.
Thank you. Now it is my honor to introduce Tom O'Toole, USGA Vice-President and Chairman of the USGA's Championship Committee.
TOM O'TOOLE: Thank you, Dot. And thanks to you and all the members of the USGA Women's Committee for all that you do to promote women's golf and all your support of the USGA.
The U.S. Women's Open Championship continues an exciting championship schedule, which over this championship season will see 13 individuals, two teams, amateurs and professionals, men and women, who will be crowned champions. While all will be very deserving, none will be more visible than the holder of the most significant title in women's professional golf, the 2013 United States Women's Open Champion at Sebonack.
Just last week, we added Justin Rose at the U.S. Open and Laura Diaz Yi at the Women's Amateur Public Links Championship as illustrious USGA champions. We look forward to adding to that impressive roster again a Women's Open Champion here at Sebonack.
The Women's Open makes history here at Sebonack in a Long Island debut, overlooking the great Peconic Bay and marking its first USGA Championship here at the Sebonack Golf Club.
Only seven years old, Sebonack is a spectacular links style course with a classic championship layout that blends into the Southampton landscape, yet it will deliver a stern and rigorous test for the finest women's golfers in the world.
A Nicolas and Doak collaboration, you're going to have to ask Michael Pascucci how he pulled that off.
This year we received 1042 entries, beating last year's record of entries into the Women's Open Championship, and marking the tenth consecutive year the number of entries has exceeded 1,000. I have a hunch that Sebonack with its beauty and its bite had something to do with that outcome.
This week, we welcome 156 worthy competitors, and as Dot said, from 22 countries, ten past Women's Open champions, 42 first-time participants, and 18 amateurs. We're excited about our entire field here, some well known, and others who persevered through the hard road of local and sectional qualifying in the pursuit of excellence and a place in this historic championship.
Like Annie Park, the 18-year-old from Long Island, a prodigy who earned her place in this championship by playing flawlessly through 36 grinding holes at sectional qualifying, and she never made a bogey, and will now play among the best female golfers in the world with the opportunity to hoist that trophy on Sunday afternoon in front of a hometown crowd.
Where do you get potential story and dream-come-true endings like that? Only at the Women's Open. The conduct of the Women's Open here at Sebonack is a start of a wonderful five-year, historic lineup for this championship.
In 2014, Pinehurst will have the honor of hosting both the 2014 U.S. Open and the 2014 U.S. Women's Open championships back-to-back. For the first time in USGA history, both events will be played on the same year on the same course. What a wonderful celebration of women's golf. Only one legendary place could host two majors, again, back-to-back in a single year, Pinehurst No. 2.
In 2015, the U.S. Women's Open will be played at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lancaster, a hidden gem and treasured layout designed in 1920 by the famed William Flynn, architect. An interesting historical note of this club involves the 1948 Pennsylvania Amateur, where Lancaster member Billy Haverstick defeated a 19-year-old Arnold Palmer 3-2 on route to winning the title at his home club.
In 2017, the U.S. Women's Open returns to the state of New Jersey for the first time in three decades to the Trump National Golf Club at Bedminster. The old course at Trump National is a wonderful Tom Fazio layout, and it was the home of the USGA Boys and Girls Juniors Amateur Championships held in 2009 simultaneously. The 2017 Women's Open will be the first professional National Championship held on a Trump-owned and developed golf course.
You may note that there was no inclusion for the year 2016. In that regard and in completing this historic lineup, we are pleased to announce here this morning, that CordeValle in San Martin, California will host the 2016 U.S. Women's Open Championship. CordeValle will mark the first time since 1982 that the Women's Open has been conducted in California, and the first time ever in the picturesque northern California area.
Having opened in 1999, CordeValle has quickly earned its reputation for hosting championship golf. For the past three years, most of you know it has staged the PGA TOUR's Frys.Com Open, which CordeValle will again do this October. In September, CordeValle will host the USGA Senior Women's Amateur, and last year, CordeValle opened its doors to the USA China Youth Golf Match, a competition conducted by the USA and China Golf Association to promote and foster cultural friendship through the game of golf.
We're also honored to announce that former United States Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, a member of the USGA's Nominating Committee and a Professor at Stanford University will serve as honorary chair of the 2016 Women's Open. Dr. Rice has proven to be an unfailing advocate for the game, making it accessible to both women and children. We thank her very much for her support of the United States Golf Association and its championships.
From 2014 to 2017, wow, that is an exciting lineup for women's golf.
I would like to take this time to thank and recognize members of the CordeValle leadership team who have joined us here this morning for this historic announcement. The President, Alan Campey. Alan, please stand and recognize yourself. Tom Gray, the golf course superintendent. Michael Marion, the Director of Golf Operations. Jeff Holland, the Director of Sales and Marketing, and their Director of Business Development, Rich Taylor.
To all of you, we say thank you, and that, yes, we accept your invitation to host the 2016 Women's Open Championship, and we look forward to another exciting championship in the northern California area.
In closing, none of this occurs without collaborative effort. You've heard us many times speak about the necessity for committed and dedicated partners. We'd like to thank the leadership and the members of the Sebonack team that have made this possible, and they've given that commitment and dedication to the success of this championship. In particular, and of course at the helm, owner Michael Pascucci. Michael, thank you, and his sons Ralph and Chris Pascucci; executive Director, Mark Hissey; general manager, Troy Albert; director of golf, Jason McCarty; and of course, a special thank you to the golf course superintendent, Garrett Bodington. As we've said at this podium many times, the most important person in the USGA Championship is what happens inside the ropes, and that's the golf course superintendent.
I know I echo Jeff Hall's comments and Mike Davis's. Garrett has given his undying effort in this, and to that, we are, of course, very grateful. We'd also like to extend our appreciation to the team of Bruno Events led by Championship Director Laura Caleal, with her expertise in assisting Sebonack in preparing for this unbelievably vast undertaking.
Equally important, we'd express our complete gratitude to the over 3,000 volunteers that the Club has enlisted to assist us in the conduct of the Championship. We are truly blessed to have these dedicated volunteers, and as we've said many times, we just could not simply do it without them.
Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our team, and the tireless effort of our USGA staff. They are the best in the business, and here this week they simply lead what is the biggest production in women's championship golf. To that end, I especially recognize, who is not with us because of recent back surgery, our Director of the Women's Open Championship, Ben Kimball, who did all the lead-in, and inside-the-ropes preparation for the Championship, and of course pass it over because he's convalescing from recent back surgery to Jeff Hall who Joe introduced earlier. So a special thanks to Jeff and Ben for all their hard work to prepare what's going to happen inside the ropes this week.
Our interaction with the Club and the operations and what is the production of the Women's Open, Tim Flaherty, the Director of the Women's Open, and the Director of the Senior Open Championship who have led this charge for many years in this regard. Tim is the best there is in this business, and thank you, Tim, for your effort in what will produce a wonderful 68th playing of the Women's Open Championship. Also thank Matt Sawicki, who is Tim's right-hand and also doubles with our rules and competition staff, and all the effort that Tim has lent to Matt to assist him this week to produce this championship.
Finally, Carolyn Gulbin, a long-time valued USGA employee who leads entire administrative efforts at this championship, and has for many years in association with Tim, we say thank you.
So all of you, as you look back at the 2013 version of the U.S. Women's Open, you'll know each of you were an integral part of its success. So I leave you with the thought that yes, starting tomorrow morning at 6:45, we'll begin the conduct of the most coveted and important championship in women's professional golf. We look for an exciting championship, particularly because we've had the opportunity to come to this very unique and unbelievably agronomically well-conditioned golf course, the Sebonack Golf Club. Again, to Michael Pascucci, and all at Sebonack, thank you very much.
Now without any further adieu, I'll turn it over to the gentleman who Joe has introduced and I've spent an inordinate amount of time with the last couple of weeks because he has the same responsibility at the U.S. Open, and that is Jeff Hall who will talk to you a little bit about the golf course and how we contemplate to present it.
JEFF HALL: Thank you, Tom. Good morning, everyone. Certainly from a competitive perspective, we're very excited to be here at Sebonack Golf Club to host the 2013 Women's Open Championship. While a relatively new venue, the architecture is quite unique. The collaboration that Tom mentioned between Jack Nicolas and Tom Doak really have presented us with just a unique golf course and we're very excited to have the opportunity to present it to the best players in women's golf over the next four days.
I mentioned a unique design and certainly by USGA Open standards, it's exceptionally unique. Fifty-plus acres of fairway is not something you typically see at a USGA Open Championship. But that said, hitting the fairway here at Sebonack does not guarantee success. It's a very strategic golf course. The proper placement on the fairways is going to be essential in order to have the proper angle to attack various hole locations. So we think the fairway statistic this week may be, perhaps, inflated. But where you are on that fairway, is going to be very important.
The challenge that is delivered through the U.S. Women's Open competition, it just doesn't happen. It's consistent with the philosophy that we have used for years, firm and fast, fair test of golf that examines players' shot-making, their mental toughness, their emotions, and their physical endurance. It's a stern test and a quality test. When somebody hoists that trophy on Sunday night, they'll have certainly earned it.
The golf course will play to just over 6,800 yards, par of 72. A great variety and balance of holes is present here at Sebonack. It's very apparent that great thought went into this design to accommodate for the various types of weather that can occur here on the east end of Long Island. And based on our forecast, we're very pleased with that flexibility. The forecast is going to call for some heavy winds over the next four days, and Tom and I have been out in the last few days studying further the available hole locations as well as the available teeing grounds that we can use to ensure the test that we present is consistent with the conditions we will encounter.
As I mentioned before, Sebonack is very demanding, a lot of strategy and skill, and as typical with any U.S. Open, patience and discipline to one's game plan will be important.
There was a slight rerouting from what the Club plays here at Sebonack from a logistical and operational standpoint. What we will play as the 9th hole for the championship is the Club's first hole. What we will play as Holes 2 through 8 are the Club's 2nd through 9th holes. But really that will have no impact in the challenge that's presented. Certainly the first hole on Thursday is no less important than the final hole on Sunday afternoon. And they've got to play all 72 to win the championship.
I mentioned the variety of holes that are available, holes like the short par-4, 4th hole and 9th hole. The four par-5s, those are all opportunities where the player could make up some strokes. A wayward shot though on those holes and they could lose strokes just as easily.
Other holes like the par-4s, 2nd, 16th, 14th and 16th, are holes where I'm quite confident the players will happily write 4 on their scorecard and move to the next tee.
The greens are really unique, really challenging, movement throughout the green complexes, most hole locations, proper positioning relative to that hole location will be critical. Our target green speeds are between 11 and a half and 12 on the stimpmeter, and we think that will be just right to challenge the players and be mindful of the weather conditions we're likely to encounter.
The three finishing holes here at Sebonack are destined to be critical in determining this year's champion. The uphill 16th says 403 yards on the scorecard, but its uphill nature, it plays a good 25 yards longer than that. The wind swept 17th with the breeze coming from left to right and slightly against will require a precision tee shot for excellence. And the 18th hole with its expansive fairway bunkers, Peconic Bay to the left, I think it will offer an exciting opportunity for a finish that could be very dramatic, especially with the prevailing breeze at the players' back. You might see a tee slide up there on Sunday, and perhaps 3 will be a number that the winner will score on the final.
In closing, again, we're very excited to be here at Sebonack. We think we've got a wonderful golf course to challenge the best players in the world, and we're looking forward to a fantastic four days with seeing some great golf that the players will play, and the fans here on Long Island will certainly enjoy. Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: Mr. O'Toole, you guys this year put the men's Open at Merion, which is kind of inaccessible. This one has kind of limited access. What is the philosophy behind showcasing hidden gems like this?
TOM O'TOOLE: As I think you know, in our championship inquiry, we react to invitations that we receive from clubs. I think I was asked the question on Sunday night at Merion: Are there clubs that just came into the mix because of what happened there a couple of weeks ago? And I said, well, maybe there is some club sitting somewhere contemplating that they'd consider now issuing an invitation. But I think you know the primary importance here and the Men's Open Championship and the Women's Open Championship is the golf course first. That is paramount to everything. Can the golf course test the greatest players in the world in that sector?
Then after that inquiry is made and resolved then we have our operations people, in this case Tim, to look at can the production of the Women's Open Championship or any of our Open Championships be presented in the fashion that we'd like in light of the planned facility we're given. So those are the two primary issues we look at.
What is paramount to this is the golf course and always will be. I think that is what the symbol and our USGA Championships stand for.
Q. Yesterday one of the players, Cristie Kerr, raised the specter of another Shinnecock in terms of the course getting out of control given the weather and all. Could you review what the USGA does to monitor and make sure that you guys are ahead of things rather than catching up in terms of course conditioning?
TOM O'TOOLE: Good question. In this championship presentation, we're always looking at factors that could impact our championship presentation. As Jeff mentioned earlier, one of those things that can really impact it is weather, whether that's humidity or dew point or rain or heat or drying effects. So our agronomy staff here led by David Oatis is checking firmness of greens. Also the green speed and the firmness is inquired or resolved as to whether or not the shots that we're asking these players to play to these putting greens and ultimately to these hole locations, can they be handled with their skill level? So the firmness is a very important factor in determining whether or not a golf course from a speed and firmness could ultimately get away from you.
But we've been monitoring this for the last week. Jake Swick, our meteorologist expert from Thor Guard, is constantly giving updates to Jeff Hall, myself, Garrett Bodington, the golf course superintendent, and to Dave Oatis. So we can try to look at this big picture and somehow or another figure out the equation of how all these things are going to impact and how we'd present the golf course Thursday through Sunday.
So it's a work in progress that goes on over a period of days. All hands got to be on deck, because if you take your eye off it for an instant, you could get behind, and that is the situation we don't want to find ourselves in.
Q. The first question is there is some forecast of rain. Is there any concern it might not be as firm and fast as you want it? But a bigger question is how is the USGA kind of changed its approach since '04 from the day when Mike Davis was on the 7th green telling people that we have the syringe the green? How have things changed since then?
JEFF HALL: I think one of the ways things have changed is just our communication process with the host club through the superintendent. Tom mentioned Dave Oatis from our staff, the green section staff, and we meet daily to review all aspects of the golf course: mowing schedules, water management, weather, preparedness for disasters, whatever they may be. It's just something that we do. It's what we do every single day and have that open line of communication to prepare.
So we've been having our 2:30 meetings since last week, and we're all on the same page when we leave that meeting room with what we're going to do to the golf course and how we're going to present the golf course.
So our alertness to situations -- we're out during the practice rounds and we spend a lot of time watching golf, just to see how the golf ball does react on the greens, the shots that are being played, where are they driving the ball? How is the wind impacting each individual hole? And we factor all that in, have a discussion, and we'll present a golf course tomorrow that is reflective of all the information we've gathered.
Q. And about the rain?
JEFF HALL: At the moment the last conversation I had with Jake was that it looked like Thursday the rain event may well be while we're sleeping. That would be welcomed. It still would be a rain event, but if it's happening while we're sleeping, it will have less of an impact on our ability to keep playing on Thursday.
But we play an outdoor game, and if we get some rain, we're blessed that Sebonack is built on a sand base. The golf course drains very, very well. That will work in our favor if we get some heavy rain. But we went through it at Merion. I know our staff is ready if we need to go through that fire drill again we'll be prepared to do so.
I think Michael Pascucci said in one of our 2:30 meetings, we're in New England, let's not talk about the weather much more than two days in advance.
Q. Dot or maybe Tom, considering golf's history on Long Island, what is the significance to you of finally having an Open out here and why did it take so long to get out here?
DOT PALUCK: Well, a comment, as Tom said before, it's No. 1, the invitations you get to hold whatever you are looking to hold. I think we're very lucky in the entire Metropolitan area and especially out here on Long Island to have some absolutely wonderful golf courses, and we've held a number of championships, I think five, on Long Island, and now the Women's Open. So I'm very proud of the history of the Long Island area and this venue.
Oh, and I should mention, next year's Women's Amateur will be at Nassau Country Club. So we're continuing forth in that direction.
Q. Jeff, I have two questions. One, following up on something you said about you're anticipating heavy winds. Because, obviously, that was a huge factor at Shinnecock in 2004, how concerned are you about that? And I'd like you to respond directly to what Cristie Kerr said yesterday about whether you agree or not, she said that she saw a couple of patches that were starting to turn brown, and she had never seen that on Tuesday. Do you agree or do you think that's a little excessive?
JEFF HALL: I think our water management program is spot on. We met again last night as the sun was going down here at Sebonack to talk about our water management program. Garrett Bodington, the superintendent here, knows this golf course extremely well. Dave Oatis is our leader this week from the green section staff. He's a professional. This is his environment, the agronomics. We're on top of our water management. We certainly understand the players are going to have comments about the golf course, and that's fine. We're very pleased with where we are at this time. It's Wednesday, we're going to start keeping score tomorrow. We're very pleased with where the golf course is from that standpoint.
Q. And the wind?
JEFF HALL: I do remember Sunday in '04 was a very windy day. We're anticipating anywhere from 10 to 20 with gusts of 25, which is the latest forecast that I saw this morning. And that is impacting our decision-making with water management, and hole locations, tee locations, green speeds. The whole sphere of what we have to do in presenting the golf course is going to be impacted by that. We've already had some discussions. We'll continue to meet and talk about just how we're going to set things up for Round 1 tomorrow.
Q. Jeff, it seems like in my understanding there have been a couple of second alternates that got into the tournament ahead of first alternates from other sites, which seems to be confusing to some people. Could you explain the formula or process by which you do that?
JEFF HALL: Sure, I'd be happy to. With our alternate situation for our Open Championships, it's a little bit different than maybe what we'd see at the TOUR level where there is kind of a straight list, and no matter who withdraws they keep going down the list. We have to contemplate both fully exempt players withdrawing as well as a qualifier withdrawing. Furthermore, because a number of our exemption categories go right to the Sunday before we start the Women's Open week, we hold spots in reserve should players earn full exemptions, and that is another contemplation that we have to factor into the mix.
I believe you're specifically referring to the fact that both the first and second alternates got into the field here this week from Baltimore and Atlanta. Both of those sites were heavily laden with LPGA TOUR players and Symetra Tour players. So the quality of the fields of our two qualifying sites this year was exceptional.
If we had 156 spots to give out on day one with no worries about who was going to become exempt later in the week, we would have given them more spots to play for if we could have. But we had to hold some back, and we create what we call a reallocation list. Meaning, if an exempt player were to withdraw, Cristie Kerr were to withdraw, and she withdrew, what site of the 20 would we have given one more place to play for? Well, because these fields were so exceptional in their quality, we put them twice on reallocation, because if we had more spots, we would have given them those spots.
The first and second alternate aspect of it is only relative to the two players from that site. A first alternate from a site that is further down the list isn't any better than the second alternate from a site that is further up the list. The site owns that spot. If the first alternate can't accept, we go to the second. In this case, we had made a conscious decision to give each of these sites potentially two if we got that far on reallocation.
This is nothing new. We do this at the United States Open; we've done it. We do it at the United States Senior Open. It's not precedent setting, it's something that we've done for many years.
The specifics, we had 78 players in Baltimore; 47 players comprised of 40 LPGA Tour players, 7 Symetra players. And in Atlanta, we had 78 players where there were 25 LPGA Tour players and 15 Symetra players. So in each case more than half the field was exceptionally talented relative to their TOUR access.
Q. The other question is maybe for Tom, I'm not sure. But the USGA announced its slow play, pace of play initiative during the U.S. Open. The tournament itself is a U.S. Open, it was unusually tough rough and things like that. So it's not exactly an example of pace of play type operational or good practices. I know it's gotten a little criticism, the USGA has, since then. Could you just respond to that?
TOM O'TOOLE: As you know, Glen Nager at a press conference on Wednesday morning at the U.S. Open before our championship press conference announced an addition to the pace of play initiative that he introduced in his annual meeting speech in February in San Diego. That initiative for pace of play globally or collectively is really focusing in on recreational golf. That's where the health of the game is being challenged because of the time it takes to play this game for enjoyment.
You understand as you come to the U.S. Open and Women's Open with 156 players on Thursday and Friday with the golf course test that Jeff has suggested to you that we will present, and, again, what is at stake or what is hanging in the balance, those two pace of play initiatives cannot be correlated. They're not even really comparable.
That said, it's really important if we're going to lead in this initiative in the game, that we take a look at ourselves, and that means we take a look at what we're doing in championships. Part of what Glen announced at the U.S. Open, and the same safeguards and same inquiries were made here, is how can we improve pace of play at our championships? So many of those things -- Jeff made mention earlier about the starting times. We're starting 15 minutes early or so the afternoon wave doesn't run into the morning wave. That worked really well for us at Merion. We're focusing in on bottlenecks on the golf course like par-3 holes, 3, 12, and 17, here at Sebonack. We've modified the definition of out of position, so there is less latitude a group would have when they approach that position by definition now. Realizing that the allotted time only really applies to the first group or two. So be glad to go into some of the minutiae of this offline. But suffice to say that we implemented many of these things at Merion. We saw some of the best pace we've ever had on a Thursday and Friday at the U.S. Open. So we saw some improvement.
But, again, let's look at these things separately. Our overall initiative that Glen announced is one connecting to the game and its recreational capability, but, again, we're trying to improve what goes on here, because why? It impacts these players, again, playing for what is the most coveted title in women's golf, and we think pace of play is important that we pay attention to that here as well.
Q. Jeff, the reason why I'm assuming you had all those stats about the qualifying sites is because you received the same emails we all seem to be receiving about people complaining about second alternates. My question is more about why is that reallocation list not made public so there is complete transparency so everyone knows where they fit into that whole realm of getting into a field?
JEFF HALL: We have not published that for any of our championships primarily because our experience with folks out there is they don't understand it and they make a mess of it even when they have that information. They just misapply it. I've been dealing with alternates at the U.S. Open for ten years, and The Senior Open for almost that long. They just don't understand it unless you talk to people one-on-one. I've had many conversations with folks in the media that were a little bit concerned about it, but when we explained it, okay, I get it. I understand it.
But just my experience and our experience -- not my experience, but our experience is it's just not easily understood by most, and it creates more problems with it being out there. If anybody ever wanted to see it, come by the office, we'll be happy to show it. But it creates confusion.
We have 20 sites on reallocation, and site number 19, the qualifier withdraws from site 19. Well, the first alternate there has exclusivity to that spot, even though they're 19th on reallocation. Somebody thinks, well, I'm the next alternate in. That's not the case. Tell me who withdraws before I can tell you who is the next alternate in. It just gets very confusing.
Q. I don't disagree with it can be confusing, but I think that at least in this realm of Women's Open and U.S. Open and Senior Open, these guys and women are pretty educated. I think you should give them the opportunity to try to figure it out on their own, at least.
TOM O'TOOLE: Let me say this, Alex, in no instance, and I ran qualifiers for 25 years, in no instance when a player inquired did we play hide and seek with this realignment schedule. But Jeff's right, we didn't throw it out there because it is difficult to ascertain and grasp. But any time a player asked, we'd gladly sit down with them and go through where their site was on the re-allotment, and how that re-allotment was figured based on the number of players at that tight and the spots that were allocated.
THE MODERATOR: Before we close out the program, we'd like to take a moment and recognize a very special individual who has been a fixture at the USGA and at the U.S. Women's Open for many years. I'd like to ask Rhonda Glenn to please join us. I'd also like to welcome USGA Executive Director Mike Davis to help us with this very special presentation.
MIKE DAVIS: In May, Rhonda announced her retirement from the USGA after nearly 50 years with the Association, dedication, and service and passion to the organization as a player, journalist, and a full-time employee. Rhonda's love affair with the USGA began in 1963 U.S. Girl's Junior, her first of 11 USGA Championships. From player to ESPN broadcaster, her role and relationship with the Association only grew in significance in subsequent years. As a hard-working journalist and gifted writer, her relationship extended across the golfing landscape with her contributions to the Association have been important in advancing the USGA's mission, particularly the focus on women's golf.
Let's watch a short video that pays tribute to the individual who has poured so much of herself into the USGA and into this wonderful game.
MIKE DAVIS: I'd like to thank the members of the USGA Museum staff that had so much to do with putting this together, and obviously, Chris Berman with ESPN as well.
Now I'd like to introduce Dot Paluck who is going to present an award. Dot, as you heard earlier, is Chair of our USGA Women's Committee.
DOT PALUCK: It is with great pleasure I get to read this resolution of congratulations to Ms. Rhonda Glenn.
I'd just like to add that it's hard to capture a person's career in a few minutes of video or a proclamation. And especially for a colleague who spanned five decades. Instead, I think of what Rhonda has said to me and to many others many times in the past of how blessed she is to have been a part of the USGA. In reflecting on her distinguished career and the game, I believe that we are the ones who have been blessed by Rhonda's talent, dedication and friendship.
On behalf of the USGA and U.S. Women's Open, please join me in congratulating Rhonda on an exemplary career. We will miss you.
RHONDA GLENN: You know me, I've got to say something. Thank you, Tom. On, I think it was the 13th of May, I was going down to apply for Social Security, and I had to park a long way from the building, and I was walking into the office. It was a beautiful spring day, and it was a bright blue sky, and I just had this sudden feeling kind of wash over me. Something I hadn't ever thought about, and it was the day that my father took me to school for the first day. My mother had a baby, so dad did the duties. And he took me by the hand and he walked me into this little white-framed schoolhouse where we had the two first grades and he let go of my hand, and he said, you're going to like this. I walked in, and there were about 20 little kids there, and I was a little bit shy, but I was really excited because I felt pretty friendly, and that maybe I was going to meet some new friends that day and that I was going to learn something. And that it was probably going to be a pretty great day. And as I'm walking into the Social Security office, I just felt like that same 6-year-old again. And I thought, you know, every day of my working life I have felt exactly the same way, that I'm probably going to meet some pretty nice people and I'm going to learn something, and it's probably going to be a pretty great day. And I have never, ever gone to work in any job I've ever had and not felt that.
My cousin Shannon is here. Our mothers were sisters. God bless you, Shannon. She works for the USTA, she just won their Distinguished Service Award. She does more than I do, she teaches kids to play tennis. We grew up and honor was something that was talked about a lot in our family. I thought, how lucky I was, first I found Girl Scouts, and then I found Junior Golf, Competitive Junior Golf, and then Women's Amateur golf, and then journalism, and then I went to work for the USGA. I am so blessed that throughout my whole life I had something that was true north. It was an honorable environment where I felt comfortable.
I just have one other thing to tell you because it's about a question that I've been asked more than anything else. The Belmont was on a couple of Saturdays ago. I know the racetrack is near here. 1973, I was doing local news. We were getting ready to go up to the news room about 5:30. And we said, we've got to watch this race. Secretariat had already won two, and so we watched the race, and we stood there in front of the screen, and first he's 15 lengths ahead, and then he's 28 lengths ahead, and then he wins and he's 31 lengths ahead. And we stood there with our fists in the air because you had never seen anything so magnificent. You had never seen such strength and coordination and grace and power. And that, my friends, is exactly what it was like in her prime playing with Mickey Wright. So I can't thank you enough. This has been such an important part of my life that on the 9th of May, as it got closer and closer to 5 o'clock, and I started getting emails that were more and more intense, and I wrote Rand Jerris at 5:00 o'clock, it's finished. And I went in and sat on the sofa and I sobbed. And I had not cried like that since my mother died.
But this is my 38th Women's Open. It's the saddest, because it's probably the last. But I'm very grateful to the USGA, and I appreciate so much all of you coming. So many of my friends, the Women's Committee that I love so much and players, thank you very, very much.