Twice as nice for LPGA at Pinehurst
If the men’s exploits and adventures at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 this past weekend were any indication, the world’s best female golfers are in for quite an entertaining treat this week.
For the first time ever, the U.S. Women’s Open will be contested at the same site as its big brother, and the USGA and course designers Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore have put together a heck of a test for the sport’s elite. Martin Kaymer made it look easy in the first two rounds and rode out the weekend in style for an eight-stroke victory in an event where only three players finished under par.
Firm, diabolical greens, challenging vegetation surrounding fairways and risk-reward golf were just a few aspects of the U.S. Open that made the week special and exciting. Now, it’s the women’s turn, and it’s going to be one heck of a follow-up for golf fans.
The women will play the course as a par-72 instead of a par-70 like the men, providing two more par-5s that are potential birdie holes. The leaderboard could be even more active than the men’s, which would be great for fans, who can tune in to NBC and Golf Channel for more than 44 hours of coverage starting Thursday.
Defending champion Inbee Park was one of a number of LPGA players who arrived at Pinehurst early in order to see the men take on the famed course, taking mental notes and getting a feel for how the course played. She will be joined by the best field in women’s golf and will be looking to become the first back-to-back winner since Hall of Famer Karrie Webb from 2000-01.
Park, who also won the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open will be joined in the field by Hall of Famers Juli Inkster – who won the event in 1999 and 2002 – Se Ri Pak, a memorable winner as a rookie in 1998, and Webb. Throw in the world’s top-ranked Stacy Lewis, superstars Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie, and a host of 26 hungry amateurs, and the plot thickens.
Everyone who’s anyone in the world of women’s golf will be teeing it up between the pine trees in North Carolina, including two-time 2014 winners Anna Nordqvist and Jessica Korda. Park won the last LPGA Tour event two weeks ago, just one week after Lewis won in Alabama to knock her from the No. 1 world ranking, so those two stalwarts should be in the mix down the stretch.
Even though it’s the United States’ championship, South Korean-born players have dominated the winner’s circle in recent years. Park’s victory marked the sixth time in the last nine years that her country produced a U.S. Women’s Open champion. The field is stacked with talent from around the globe, so it’s far from a foregone conclusion that South Koreans will make it seven out of 10.
This year’s champion must rely on accurate tee shots, precision iron play and steely putting to survive the stiff test that is Pinehurst No. 2 if she wants to etch her name forever in the history books. This is the tournament players dream of winning, and now it’s time to go get it.
Now on the tee: the best ladies in pro golf.