Women face shorter, still-difficult test on No. 2
Posted June 19, 2014
Pinehurst, N.C. — Pinehurst Resort and the United States Golf Association begin week two of play at their historic back-to-back U.S. Opens Thursday.
One hundred fifty-six women will begin their quest for the Women’s U.S. Open championship just four days after Martin Kaymer beat out a field of 167 to win the men’s title.
Never before have the women played on the same course as the men in back-to-back weeks, and the true test lies in how the course will hold up, but the grounds crew has been working tirelessly to ensure that the conditions are up to par.
The women will play a 6,649-yard No. 2 whereas the men played at an average of 7,562 yards. In week one, the course rating was 76 with a slope rating of 147, for the women, the course rates a 78.1 with a slope of 145.
A slightly shorter course is the norm for LPGA golfers, but they will have to tackle the same narrow fairways and turtle-back greens as the men did.
The men’s championship was open to any professional or amateur golfer with a handicap index of 1.4 or better while the women could not exceed 2.4. Both Opens received a record number of entries.
For the first time in Open history the women practiced alongside the men Sunday. As the men prepared for their final round, the women took practice swings on the driving range and putting green.
Inbee Park, Jessica Korda, Natalie Gulbis and Sandra Gal were among the first women to hit the range.
Pictures were taken and introductions made as the golfers themselves had their first chance at seeing and meeting some of their peers.
The third-ranked golfer in the world, Lydia Ko, was seen taking video of Phil Mickelson warming up Sunday. Ko said she had a mental breakdown after meeting her first PGA golfer over the weekend, but did manage to get some tournament prep in too.
“I sat down in one of the grandstands and kind of saw everybody go through. I kind of watched it on the wrong hole because I was only on the 7th green, and all of the guys were trying to get on in one. And I'm trying to hit driver, 6-iron on to the green,” Ko said, pointing out one of the differences between the men’s and women’s game.
“There's a lot of exciting female players that will be competing next week, and their shot selection will be interesting, and their execution on such a demanding golf course will be interesting,” said Mickelson following his final round Sunday. “And it's fun to watch when you already know what the golf course is like and how it plays and where you can and can't go.”
Ko said seeing the crazy breaks that the green took for the men was helpful. She said as the course gets drier it will only play faster for the women.
Despite being 900 yards shorter for the women, Pinehurst No. 2 is still a very long course and will reward the deep hitters.
Historically the overall attendance for the women’s Open is significantly less than the men’s and the same appears to hold true for 2014. For the 28th year in a row the men’s championship sold out, whereas tickets for the women’s Open are still available (official attendance numbers are not yet available).
Foot traffic was lighter during the women's practice rounds. Several concession stands have been converted into cooling stations and many grandstands have been reduced in size.