De ja vu at Pinehurst: men, women will play back-to-back U.S. Opens on No. 2 in 2014
In a somewhat startling announcement made by the USGA Monday, the 2014 Men’s and Women’s U.S. Opens will be staged back-to-back weeks at the Pinehurst Resort that June.
The advantages to hosting both opens at the same venue in consecutive weeks are numerous. For starters, the USGA team won’t have to go anywhere for two weeks, so the infrastructure and manpower required to stage such an event can get extra cozy in their accommodations before packing up shop for the next event.
And the Pinehurst Resort of course, will surely be giddy at the thought of two straight weeks of major TV publicity, and what we would assume to be full occupancy at premium rates, at least to units not given to the USGA.
For the LPGA, the players will move from Pine Needles, a great course in its own right but by no means a household name, to the famed No. 2, which stands to potentially elevate interest and TV ratings.
A few negatives of the decision have been brought up, the biggest being that the course will be beat up the following week for the gals. My rebuttal to that is that it’s hard to believe the landing zones for the men and women will be the same on some holes, but around greens, especially in collection areas, there could be trouble, especially if Phil Mickelson is missing greens and taking chunky flop shots around them.
The USGA notes that the rough won’t really be an issue, since around the greens it’s all fairway length anyways.
Personally, one negative that comes to mind is the afternoon June weather in the Carolinas. When I was at nearby Pine Needles in 2007, the U.S. Women’s Open faced constant threats of thunderstorms, and delays plagued the event. The tournament eventually finished on time, but TV coverage always suffers when the players aren’t competing in their allocated slots.
If the men’s tour faces delays or a playoff on top of it, it could cut into practice round time the following week.
I’m also a little surprised that Pinehurst didn’t try and get the event hosted on another one of their courses, so No. 1 or No. 4’s status could be elevated a bit - and the course would be in better condition. But its the famed Ross crowned greens of No. 2 that the USGA appears to be after for the women.
For now, it sounds like the LPGA is practically universally in favor of the announcement of a No. 2 two-step, as they’re looking forward to piggy-backing off the men’s publicity. In 2007, the Women’s British Open at the Old Course in St. Andrews did wonderful things for women’s golf (from Lorena Ochoa’s first major win to Paula Creamer’s Swilcan Bridge cartwheel), and anytime the game can play the most storied venues in golf, it can only help. Personally, I am awaiting the day Augusta National decides to host a women’s invitational of some kind. It’s overdue already.
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