These Women Are Hot!

Looking deceptively benign, the eighteenth hole of The Championship Course at Blackwolf Run

[Round updates in Comments section below]

Chances are the Original Championship Course at Blackwolf Run would have made some of the competitors hot under the collar as is. But record high temperatures were also being predicted for today’s opening round of the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at the Kohler facility in Wisconsin.

U.S. Women's Open defending champ So Yeon Ryu (USGA/Steve Gibbons)

Care is being taken to see that everyone stays well-hydrated, but as for the layout, according to Ben Kimball, director of the tournament for the USGA, “This is our national championship, so it should be the toughest test for the women that they see all year. They’ll have to figure out a way to battle through the elements.”

That said, the course could play easier than 1998, when last and memorably played here with a winning score of +6. Though at 6,954 yards measuring 500 yards longer than that, the planned mix of tee boxes will ensure it’s not played at full length (in 1998, the tee boxes were relatively fixed throughout the tournament). On Thursday, the route was laid out at 6,807 yards.

In addition, the graduated rough philosophy adopted for the USGA tournaments in 2006 is being employed, with deeper rough on shorter holes.

And while the Pete Dye layout is in a beautiful setting, the players won’t have much time to appreciate the scenery. As in 1998, the routing begins on a special tee box of the tenth hole of the Meadow Valleys Course, and continues through hole 18 of that course. It then moves on to holes 1-4 and 14-18 of the River Course.

Visitors to The American Club resort were able to play the Championship layout in recent years as renovations were undertaken on the other holes. But now, except perhaps on some special days, that routing is reserved for the women the next four days.

The course is built for drama, though it won’t be easy for this year’s tilt to match the fireworks of 1998. The course seemed so difficult then that veterans like Nancy Lopez took out white towels and waved them in mock surrender.

Se Ri Pak (Getty Images)

But amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn of the U.S. dropped a 40-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to take the lead at +6, leaving Se Ri Pak of Korea, then a rookie, an eight-foot putt for a birdie and the win at the last hole.

She missed. And so the tournament went to an 18-hole playoff the next day. Or so it was assumed, but the pair were still deadlocked after 18. It took an 18-foot birdie putt two holes later–the 92nd hole of competition for the pair–for Pak to secure the title.

Today, Chuasiriporn is a nurse practitioner in Virginia. Pak went into the Hall of Fame in 2007 as its youngest living member. She also became an instant role model for the young girls of Korea who are now a dominant force on the women’s tours.

Pak was set to tee it up again this morning with one of those players she inspired, fellow Daejeon native Jeong Jang, as well as Beatriz Recari of Spain.

Stay cool, ladies!

Third-round leader Na Yeon Choi and caddy Shane Joel (USGA photo)


U.S. Open Winners at Blackwolf Run: Se Ri Pak (1998, in blue) hugs 2012 champion Na Yeon Choi. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

Every picture tells a story (USGA/Fred Vuich)

Related post: Blackwolf Run Beer Challenge and Million Dollar Shootout

5 Responses to “These Women Are Hot!”

  1. Tom Bedell

    Bogey-free round for Christie Kerr, tied for lead at -3 with two other U.S. players, Brittany Lincicome and Lizette Salas.

    The sun umbrellas were indeed out as temperatures hit a high of 103 degrees in heavy humidity. Concession stands were giving away a water bottle for every one purchased, and shade was prime real estate.

    Looks like a slight break today–only 90 degrees or so.

  2. Tom Bedell

    Suzann Pettersen fires a 4-under second round to take the lead at the halfway mark. Her -5 total gives her a one stroke edge over Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie, who shot a blistering 66 for the day’s best round.

    Defending champ So Yeon Ryu stands in a T17 with a group at +1, including 1998 winner Se Ri Pak.

    Predictions are the temps will stay under 80 tomorrow. Players may be bundling up!

  3. Tom Bedell

    Na Yeon Choi tied the record for the best third round ever in a U.S. Women’s Open, a seven-under 65, to take a six stroke lead into Sunday. At -2, Amy Yang is looking up at Choi, now the top-ranked Korean player. Lexi Thompson shot even par today to finish at -1.

    Second round leader Suzann Pettersen fell back to +1 after a +6 round, tied with Christie Kerr (+5 today) and Michelle Wie, who could not sustain the roll she was on yesterday with her six-under 66, ballooning to +5 today.

    The course played tough, with only six players finishing at even par or better, and 19 shooting 80 or worse, making Choi’s round look even more remarkable.

  4. Tom Bedell

    As Jim McLean commented in a Tweet to The A Position after yesterday’s round: “Yes, the course is brutal. It takes just small mistakes to shoot a high score. Super tough.”

    A look at the pin placements for the final round doesn’t look like the USGA is in a particularly conciliatory mood today, either. We’ll see.

  5. Tom Bedell

    Despite a triple bogey on the tenth hole and a few flirtations with disaster on twelve and thirteen, Na Yeon Choi played a steady round that preserved her lead and made her the winner of the 67th U.S. Women’s Open.

    One of the first players to greet her on the eighteenth green was the 1998 winner here, Se Ri Pak. Choi, who was ten when Pak won the trophy, gave her a slight bow before the two embraced and the champagne flew.

    Pak’s victory is credited with inspiring the Korean stampede to the LPGA, now firmly established. Koreans have won four of the last five U.S. Women’s Opens. Another Korean player, Amy Yang, was the runner up; she and Choi were the only players to finish under par, Choi at 281, seven-under, Yang at 285, three-under.

    Sandra Gal of Germany finished third at 289, one-over.

    Compared to yesterday’s mere six rounds at even or under par yesterday, 18 players were at level par or better today. Sun Young Yoo shot the day’s best round, a four-under 68, but after carding an 81 yesterday it moved her only into a tie for 32nd place.

    Paula Creamer was the low U.S. player at 291, three-over, in a tie for seventh place.

    Choi will fly to Korea tomorrow, and with a $585,000 winner’s check, should definitely go for the upgrade.

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