SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. - South Korea headlines a highly international field this week at the U.S. Women's Open here at Pine Needles Lodge $ Golf Club, but among one of the more unsung countries is the Czech Republic and Jana Peterkova.
"My dad forced me to play as a way of rebelling against the communist regime," said Peterkova.
Leisure sports like golf were frowned upon by communism, although the Czech Republic had more leeway than most countries behind the Iron Curtain. Her family escaped prior to the Velvet Revolution of 1989 to Australia. They returned once the Russians left, and golf began to flourish again.
"He had an idea that after the revolution, I would be the best player in the country, which actually happened," she said.
Peterkova is 7-over after the first round (weather continued to delay the tournament Friday). She also competed in the 2005 Open at Cherry Hills.
There is also one Russian in the field this week: Maria Kostina, who shot a first-round 89 and is in last place.
Seven countries currently represent the top 15, including five South Koreans and six Americans. American Kris Tamulis, who sits at 1-over, said national pride is certainly on players' minds this week.
"I think that we, as a nation, have a lot of pride in ourselves," said Tamulis. "And it's always nice to see young people win, specifically Americans."
A popular topic overheard at Pine Needles Friday was whether or not Michelle Wie would finish higher than 12-year-old Alexis Thompson. Both are unlikely to survive the cut, currently projected at 7-over. Thompson sits at 12-over with five holes to go. Wie has yet to tee off for her second round and sits at 11-over.
With each day of the tournament altered due to rain, including practice rounds in the week, rules & tournament director Mike Davis thinks this year's tournament could set an infamous record for weather delays.
We're trying to recall a tournament where play was suspended every day," said Davis. "We don't think we have. So if we do tomorrow, which it looks like there's a good chance we will, I don't know whether to root for it or not on Sunday for a record, but we may get to it."
In the 1987 Open, the final round was played on Monday, only to see a tie between Laura Davies, Ayako Imoto and Joanne Carner, forcing a Tuesday playoff, which Davies eventually won.
June 29, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
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