Fanfare For Women’s Open Begins With Media Day At Sebonack

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Members of the press gathered at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton on a foggy Monday morning for the U.S. Golf Association’s official Media Day for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open Championship in June.

Defending champion Na Yeon Choi of South Korea was on hand, along with Dot Paluck, chairman of the USGA Women’s Committee; Ben Kimball, the USGA’s championship director; and Sebonack owner Michael Pascucci.

The Open will be contested at Sebonack June 27 through 30, and it will be the first major tournament hosted by the fledgling club, designed by both Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak, which opened in 2006.

On Monday, Choi spoke briefly with the media about her win last year, which was her first in a major championship. The 25-year-old shot a third-round 65 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin, last year, setting the course record and tying for the third-lowest single-round score in U.S. Women’s Open history. Choi became the fourth Korean in the past five years to win the championship, and the fifth since her childhood idol, Se Ri Pak, won in 1998.

Paluck addressed the media after Choi, who had to leave to catch a flight for a tournament in the Bahamas. Paluck spoke about the history of the Women’s Open, which is in its 68th year. The inaugural Women’s Open was held at the Spokane Country Club in 1946, and it was the only one conducted at match play. The Women’s Professional Golfers Association conducted the championship, which was won by Patty Berg. The LPGA took over operations of the championship the following year, and then handed it over to the USGA in 1953.

This year’s Women’s Open will be the fifth conducted in New York and the first on Long Island.

Both Kimball and Pascucci spoke extensively about the type of test Sebonack will offer to the top female players in the world. Accuracy off the tee won’t be an issue, as the fairways at Sebonack are as wide as one will ever see in a Women’s Open. There also isn’t punishing rough to deal with. But the par-72 (35-37) course is long, measuring 6,796 yards (which is subject to change), and the greens have a reputation for being particularly tricky. An excellent short game is going to be crucial for success—and Pascucci made that clear in his comments on Monday.

“Because the fairways are so big, you can really take a whack at it,” he said. “Whoever is the best chipper of the golf ball will win this.”

When asked about his motivation to host a major championship, especially on a course just seven years old, Pascucci said, “It’s a give-back situation. And it’s also something I’ll enjoy. We want to get a feel for what a championship golf experience will be like for us.”

The USGA and Sebonack agreed to some slight changes in the course routing for the tournament. Sebonack’s typical second hole, a par-4 along Great Peconic Bay, will be the first, while the typical first hole will be the tournament’s ninth. That change will offset the hole numbers by one on the front nine—Hole 2 will become 3, 3 will be come 4, and so on—while the back nine will remain the same.

Choi, who played a practice round at Sebonack in the rain on Sunday, singled out four holes that she believes will be the most difficult of the tournament: the aforementioned par-4 first; a long par-4 sixth hole that has a dogleg left; the par-4 11th, the longest par-4 on the course, which is also near the bay, making the wind a factor; and the par-4 16th, which requires a long uphill tee shot.

Tickets are still available for the Open, with a variety of packages available. For more information, visit 2013uswomensopen.com.

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