(Editor's Note: Charlotte Mayorkas, a rookie on the LPGA Tour in 2007, is filing entries for her LPGA Tour Diary throughout the season. If you would like to suggest topics for Charlotte, or ask questions about the Tour life, send them to email@example.com.)
Summer has officially started and the LPGA is heading toward the heart of the season!
Two weeks ago, Angel Cabrera conquered Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. Oakmont is said to be one of the most difficult-playing U.S. Open golf courses and winning with a score of 5-over par and surviving that rough length, well, they were not kidding.
This week begins the 62nd U.S. Women's Open hosted at Pine Needles Lodge in Southern Pines, N.C. This is the third time the Women's Open has been played at Pine Needles in the past eleven years. The U.S. Women's Open is one of four majors on the LPGA Tour and hosted by the USGA. With a $3.1 million purse, the largest of any event on Tour, the field is packed with the best of the best in women's golf.
The field consists of 156 players and the tournament format is stroke play. A cut will be made at the conclusion of play on Friday and the top 60 plus ties will continue to the weekend. According to the USGA, 68 players were fully exempt from qualifying for this year's championship, leaving only 87 spots open for players qualifying locally and then through sectional events.
Within the U.S., entries came from 46 states; and internationally, 38 countries were represented. Entries have consistently exceeded the 1,000 benchmark over the past four years and a record number of 1,251 entries were accepted this year – all vying for one of 87 spots! This is a very special event and it is a true test of the game.
The first U.S. Women's Open actually began as a match-play event in 1946. Patty Berg, after capturing medalist honors, went on to defeat Betty Jameson 5-and-4 in the 36-hole final. The Open was not introduced into the USGA Championship official line-up until 1953.
There are a number of ways to qualify for entrance into the U.S. Women's Open. The most common is through local and sectional qualifiers offered across the country by the USGA. Each local qualifying event is based on 18 holes, and it is the size and the strength of the field that determines how many players move on to the sectional qualifiers. This year I was able to bypass local qualifying altogether because I competed in last year's Open.
The sectionals are a grueling, one-day, 36-hole event. During the week of June 4th, I was in Bulle Rock, Md., playing in the second LPGA major of the year, the LPGA Championship. The USGA offered a sectional qualifier about 90 minutes from the LPGA Championship in Rockville, Md. My schedule was tight journeying up and down the East Coast competing in LPGA events and I was never able to play a practice round on the qualifying courses, Woodmont Country Club's North and South courses.
After I finished playing my round at Bulle Rock on Sunday, I drove straight to Rockville and headed to Woodmont to get an idea of where it was located. I found a nearby hotel and crashed for the night. On Monday, I faced a long day of 36-holes of golf. The USGA permits the use of caddies in qualifiers, as well as allowing players to carry their own bag. Packing up my car to make the journey East, I made sure that I included my small, old-school UCLA moon bag just for this occasion. It was just like the good old days when it was just me and my sticks!
I must admit I haven't walked 36-holes in a long time, let alone carried my own bag in the last five months, but I grinded it out and shot a two-round total of 1-over par. Our qualifying site had 36 spots since the field was enormous and made up mostly of LPGA players. Two-over par for the day was the cut and a playoff determined the last spots and alternate positions.
This week, my friend and owner of Beyond the Links Clothing, Joe Skovron, is on the bag. He took a week off from trying to play on the Canadian Tour to come loop for the big event.
Pine Needles is playing long, a total of 6,664 yards, with the greens running speedy on the Stimpmeter. I tee up Thursday beginning on hole No. 10 at 8:39 (EDT), and I'm looking forward to playing in my second U.S. Women's Open!
Keep it in the short stuff!
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