PINEHURST, N.C. - When Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng step to the 10th tee Thursday afternoon to begin the U.S. Women's Open, it will be a Pinehurst reunion nine years in the making.
After winning the North & South Women's Amateur here in 2004, Pressel returned as a 17-year-old in 2005 in search of back-to-back titles. She made it all the way to the finals, but there she ran into a future world No. 1 in Tseng, who took the title from her in extra holes.
"I actually don't remember a whole lot about my win here," Pressel said Monday. "The most vivid memory I have of playing here is losing to Yani in 39 holes. That memory's a little bit fresher."
The USGA has opted to bring those memories back to the forefront, grouping Pressel and Tseng together for the first two rounds this week at Pinehurst No. 2. They pair will begin off the 10th tee at 1:25 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Brittany Lang.
"I saw they are pairing us together again. It's kind of funny," Pressel said. "But nine years later, we've played a lot together since then, too."
Pressel has a strong history in USGA championships, having made her U.S. Women's Open debut in 2001 at age 12 at nearby Pine Needles. She won the U.S. Amateur in 2005 and nearly won the Women's Open as an amateur that same summer, tying for second behind Birdie Kim.
While course setups in this event traditionally force players to remain accurate off the tee, Pressel knows that on a course without rough, the key separating contenders from the rest of the pack will be seen elsewhere.
"It's all on the greens. It's putting and chipping and imaginative, creative shots," she said. "That's what you need out here more than driving or anything else, and I think even more than that, you need great course management. I mean, you saw Martin Kaymer pretty much methodically take down the golf course by hitting it in the right places."
While she watched some of the TV coverage Sunday as Kaymer cruised to victory, Pressel was also glued to her phone as friends gave her updates from the Symetra Tour's Decatur-Forsyth Classic where her younger sister, Madison, was in the hunt. The 23-year-old erased a three-shot deficit on the penultimate hole to force a playoff, which she eventually won against Ashley Tait to notch her first win as a professional.
"I was going crazy, I was so excited," Morgan said.