Just when you thought you had enough of The Pinehurst Resort, it’s the ladies turn. For the first time in history, the LPGA will follow the men into a venue for the US Women’s Open. The LPGA tees it up on Thursday at the Donald Ross design in the sand hills of North Carolina where former number one, Inbee Park will defend her 2013 title.
The USGA has taken away approximately 1000 yards from the Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore restoration of the historic Pinehurst Number Two for the ladies this week, and have added two par 5′s back into the layout. Although they will set the course up for some driveable par fours during the week, it will play to a par of 72.
There were concerns that the play from the US Open would make the course unfair for the ladies this week. Course officials have indicated they are setting up the prime landing areas to require a 7 iron to the green, and those areas will not be in the same place as the men’s landing areas.
This should alleviate the problem of the ladies landing in divots made by the men last week.
All indications are that they will water the greens to make them a bit more receptive early in the week and we shouldn’t see quite the run-off we saw the last weekend. It was unclear if they will allow them to dry out again for next weekend.
However they decide to set up the golf course for the weekend, this should be a stern test for the ladies, and give them a new perspective on tough US Open conditions.
Many of the LPGA stars arrived early, and were in the gallery on Sunday to get an early peek at the monster in North Carolina. They were allowed to practice, and many of them followed the leaders during the final round to see how the golf course was playing.
NBC and The Golf Channel will pick up over 40 hours of programming to cover this historic event. It’s a great marketing idea, and should give golf fans two full weeks of very exciting competition.
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.
Be sure to check in with Pro Golf Now this week for updates. Elizabeth Bethel specializes in covering LPGA events and will be providing her unique view of this historic event along with stories from Pinehurst.