The U.S. Women’s Open is to be played at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton this week, beginning today, and among those listed as players to watch in Newsday’s preview Tuesday were eight South Koreans, one of whom, the 16-year-old Lydia Ko, the U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, lives in New Zealand.
In the past nine years, beginning with Se Ri Pak in 1998, South Korean golfers have won the U.S. Open six times. They’ve taken the last four out of five — Inbee Park in 2008, Eun-Hee Ji in ’09, So Yeon Ryu in ’11, and Na Yeon Choi, whose nickname is NYC, last year.
When Newsday’s golf writer Mark Herrmann (who got his start at The Southampton Press) recently asked the world’s number-one, Inbee Park, who’s won the last two majors (Asian-born women have won the last nine majors), to account for the Korean women’s dominance, she said, with a laugh, “I think maybe we have dominant blood.”
The hometown heroine, as it were, is Annie Park, the 18-year-old amateur from Levittown who won Nassau County’s boys championship last year before enrolling at the University of Southern California, whose team she led to a National Collegiate Athletic Association championship this spring, winning the individual title for herself.
Becky McDaid, a former U.S.C. star who now is an assistant pro at Friar’s Head in Riverhead, told Herrmann that she thought Park had “a shot to win it.”
She will have one of Sebonack’s caddies, Joe Carsons, carrying her bag. He is expected to be very helpful when it comes to playing the greens.
The 6,796-yard links-type course, designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak, is only seven years old, but Mike Pascucci, the club’s owner, has said that terrain-wise things were left pretty much as they have always been.
“It’s a beautiful course,” said John Kernell, this writer’s golf expert, who played Sebonack with U.S.G.A. officials on Media Day. “Its undulating greens are its defense. There’s no rough, no thick grass, unless you hit it really bad.”
“The greens should be reading 11 and a half to 12 feet on the Stimpmeter, which is fast. And then there’s the wind. If it blows during the tournament it will definitely affect the scoring. If it’s calm, the top group could finish at 6 to 12-under for the four rounds. If it’s windy, though, there might not be anyone under par. It’s much like Shinnecock [one of Sebonack’s neighbors, as is National] in that respect.”
Kernell added that the tickets — $125 for the entire week, which began with practice rounds Monday — were very reasonably priced. “The tournament’s being played at an exclusive club that most people would never be able to go to otherwise, and the quality of golf will be first-class.”
First-round play began at 6:45 this morning. Parking is on Magee Street, off Route 27, past the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Spectators will be shuttled to and from the course. Tickets can be had online through 2013uswomensopen. com. The tournament will be televised on ESPN from 3 to 7 p.m. today and tomorrow, and on Cablevision’s Channel 4 Saturday and Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m.