The 62nd US Women’s Open begins Thursday at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Annika Sorenstam, the defending champion, defeated Pat Hurst in an 18-hole playoff in Newport, Rhode Island. That will be the final 18-hole playoff in Women’s Open history – beginning this year, the event adopts a three-hole playoff format. TV coverage begins Thursday at 2pm EDT on ESPN and weekend coverage will be handled by NBC.
Pine Needles is a par-71, 6616 yards. This long layout probably includes a few pine trees and cones (you think?) the players will have to avoid, along with the usual US Open-style rough and slick greens. Keep in mind the USGA’s recent mentality that “red numbers” equals “too easy” – the last two Opens have seen no one under par after four rounds and when this event was held here back in 2001, Karrie Webb was the only player under par (at -7, winning by eight shots).
Here is the field for the year’s third major. In last week’s preview I mentioned that I was going to break my 10-week streak of picking Lorena Ochoa to win. Her victory at Wegmans just gives me one more reason not to pick her this week. 1980 was the last year the Open was won by the player who won the previous event (Amy Alcott). Another reason – if Ochoa dwells on winning a major 1% as much as the media does, she won’t win. And I’m fairly certain she is thinking about it. A third reason – I have to stop picking Lorena sometime, I may as well get it over with. I will choose her as a CYA (I’m not THAT stupid) along with Brittany Lincicome, but I’m picking Cristie Kerr to be that player winning her first major championship this Sunday.
Stats: Winners 2-14 (3-14 with CYAs), Top Tens 24-42.
FYI – It’s family vacation time again. I will be on the road at least Thursday and Friday, so watching the action and posting promptly might not be possible. To answer the inevitable question - I didn’t schedule this trip, the wife did. Nor did she plan for us to travel to North Carolina. That would’ve been sweet. Anyway, I’ll do my best but will ask you to rely on TC at Mostly Harmless to deliver your LPGA blogging fix. While you’re at it, be sure to forward him any links or blog entries you find on Women’s Open related material for his “Take Your Blog To The Course” event. While I’m plugging his site, here’s the Mostly Harmless US Open Preview. Enjoy the tournament.