Long Haul at US Womens Open

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 1, 2004, 4:00 pm
2004 U.S. WomenSOUTH HADLEY, Mass. -- The only shortcut at this U.S. Women's Open is from the putting green to the clubhouse.
Players got reacquainted with their drivers during their practice rounds, and even the long hitters found they have their work cut out for them.
Orchards Golf Club is 6,473 yards and plays even longer because of the moist grass, gentle bends in the tree-lined fairways and elevated greens that must be carried to certain spots.
Rosie Jones summed up the course in four words.
'Long, long, long,' she said, 'and long.'
The long road to finding a winner of the most prestigious event in women's golf started Thursday, with Annika Sorenstam and Grace Park among the favorites, and Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer among the record 16 teenagers in the 156-player field.
It won't be anything like last year.
The Orchards is the opposite of Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon, where the longest Women's Open course in history at 6,550 yards played as one of the shortest because of crusty, dry conditions.
'At Pumpkin Ridge, I hit three drivers. This is 6,400 yards, and I'm only hitting two or three 3-woods,' two-time Open champ Juli Inkster said. 'There's a big difference in hitting wedges into par 4s. But you've still got to get the ball in the fairway.'
No one will be hitting wedges into the last two par 4s, unless it's their third shot.
No. 16 is 439 yards - unusually long for women's golf - with a bowl-shaped green fronted by a creek. The 18th is among the most demanding with more water cutting diagonally through the 412-yard hole, and the two-tiered green is a steep uphill finish.
'The last three holes, you play those in even par for the week and you'll be in contention,' Karrie Webb said.
The challenging conditions are in contrast to the quiet New England charm of the course. Small winding roads through tiny New England towns that lead to the Orchards, a course built for a woman and owned by female-only Mount Holyoke College.
Joseph Skinner, a textile magnate, wanted a place for his daughter to play and commissioned Donald Ross to build it in 1922.
The clubhouse is an understated, three-story Colonial. The practice green is no bigger than a two-car garage.
Only when they set foot on the course do they get a rude reminder what is at stake. The Women's Open is the toughest test they face all year, and this is no exception.
'It closes down the opportunity for people to win,' Beth Daniel said Wednesday. 'There are very few players who can win this tournament on this golf course.'
That wasn't the case last year at Pumpkin Ridge, where conditions opened up the Open to just about every variety of game, and the winner - Hilary Lunke - emerged from a three-way playoff despite having to use metal woods to reach some of the par 4s.
Because the Orchards is playing long, the advantage goes to big hitters who are trying to capture the $560,000 first-place check from the $3.1 million purse, the richest in women's golf.
'This is the biggest tournament we have, and it would mean a lot,' said Sorenstam, who hasn't won the Open in eight years and wasted a great chance last year by making a bogey-6 on the final hole to finish one shot out of the playoff.
For the second straight year, the Women's Open looks like a day-care center. The 16 teenagers are two more than the previous record set last year at Pumpkin Ridge.
Wie is getting most of the attention because she has become the most celebrated teen in golf, and because the USGA afforded her special treatment by giving her an exemption from qualifying. Even at 14, the prodigy from Hawaii already has a rival in the same age group - Creamer, who finished second on the LPGA Tour two weeks ago.
'I'm playing good golf,' Creamer said. 'It's not my best but, you know, I definitely think I can win this year.'
No one doubts Wie, Creamer and 18-year-old Aree Song have the game to win the biggest tournament. Song, a rookie on the LPGA Tour, came close to winning the first major of the year.
About the only player being written off is Lunke.
Not only was Pumpkin Ridge her biggest victory, it was her only victory. In fact, Lunke has never finished in the top 10 at any other professional tournament.
Add to that the length at Orchards, and it compounds the difficulty. Lunke has yet to reach the par-4 16th and 18th holes in two shots during her practice rounds.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
  • Getty Images

    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

    Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

    By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

    Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

    Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.