SAN FRANSICO – An eerie fog lurks over the horizon at Olympic Club as players prepare for a demanding week of golf. The course’s skinny firm fairways and small greens aren’t even the main topics of conversation.
It’s the rough.
Drop a ball in the rough and crouch to eye level … the ball disappears. Players flood the short game area to practice their rough finesse, but and shot longer than chip from this stuff and there’s little to no chance to reach the green. Get ready for lots of punch-outs to those narrow fairways as this week harkens back to U.S. Opens of old.
The rough may be intimidating, but are the players intimidated?
Yes and no.
“It's hard. I love it. Small greens, high rough. Yeah, it's going to be difficult, but I'm super excited about it,” said Jessica Korda. Her sister, Nelly, gave a similar analysis: “Tight fairways, high roughs, small greens. It's going to be a shot-making golf course, and I can't wait to get started on Thursday.”
The Korda sisters took a break from last week’s match-play event to get their bodies in peak shape to perform – that meant a lot of rest. Others, such as LPGA Tour winner Minjee Lee used the LPGA Match Play as a confidence booster to channel good vibes for the difficult week.
“It’s going to be such a challenging week, and I think that is what makes it the most exciting,” said Lee, also adding “the rough is just really, really thick. I’m not sure you can actually get it to the greens. It’s just going to be a chip-out, I think.”
San Francisco native Lucy Li gave her take on the course. “The conditions are the same for everyone,” she said. “At some point everyone is going to be in the rough, so staying patient is really important.”