I’ll have to admit, I had my doubts about the success of a dual US Open at the same golf course in consecutive weeks, especially with Tiger Woods being on the IR with back problems, and the LPGA not having a legitimate American super star. Toss in the difficulty factor that comes with the aggravating greens at Pinehurst Number Two, and it was a tough sell for the 2014 US Opens.
The returning popularity of The LPGA started in 2013 with the three major run that Inbee Park made into the Women’s British Open that was eventually won with a miraculous putt by Stacy Lewis at the old course of St. Andrews, and got a big shot in the arm with a tough Team USA loss at the Solheim Cup.
I had long been writing that what the LPGA needed was a genuine American super-star, and that genuine super-star needed to be Michelle Wie.
The men’s US Open at Pinehurst was hurt by the absence of Tiger Woods, and the strangle hold that 29 year-old Martin Kaymer had on the field after record-setting 65’s in the first two rounds.
It left the remainder of the field playing for second place and fans rooting for double heart transplant recipient, Erik Compton to finish high enough to play in next year’s Masters.
It took an 11 year-old amateur from the Bay Area, and a 24 year-old super-star-in-waiting to turn this experiment into the special event the USGA anticipated.
Lucy Li didn’t make the cut, but we sure had fun watching a smallish 11 year-old girl take her lumps at the difficult holes, and hit great come-backs at the next hole. After she missed the cut, she became an ice cream eating fan who stayed until the end.
At the end of the day, it was Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis battling down the stretch that turned this experiment into a huge success. After losing four of the last five US Women’s Opens to the South Koreans, This US Women’s Open was about Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, and an 11 year-old ice cream eating machine.
I, for one thought that playing both National Championships at one venue in consecutive weeks was great for golf, and hope that the USGA decides to try it again in the future.