Notebook: Back-to-Back Numbers Are In
By Greg Midland, USGA
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Heading into this year’s historic back-to-back U.S. Open Championships at Pinehurst No. 2, much of the discussion focused on how the course would, or would not, play differently from one week to the next. We now have the answer.
“We were delighted in how it played,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “This golf course really did play, overall, the same for the men and the women. It wasn’t necessarily the same every day, but it averaged the same.”
A look at the statistics reveals some compelling figures:
U.S. Women’s Open
Double Bogeys or Worse
Six holes ranked the same on the difficulty scale for both weeks (rank in parentheses):
Par-4 16th (2)
Par-4 2nd (3)
Par-4 12th (8)
Par-4 18th (10)
Par-3 9th (14)
Par-4 13th (15)
And the par-4 third hole, which played anywhere from 313 to 394 yards for the U.S. Open and 229 to 340 yards for the U.S. Women’s Open, posed a strategic dilemma in both championships. Many players took advantage of the relatively short distance and drove it onto or near the green, setting up birdie and eagle chances. But the small, sloping green and deep bunkers surrounding it provided a good defense, as there were 54 bogeys and 12 double bogeys or worse recorded during the U.S. Open and 72 bogeys and 19 double bogeys or worse recorded during the Women’s Open.
The USGA went to great lengths to record data on every shot hit in both championships, and Davis added further context to this trove of information.
“If you look at the top – whether it’s the top 10, the top 25, the top 50 players, those numbers are very close [for men and women],” he said. “But when you start to stretch it out, probably the depth of field for the men is slightly stronger. And it stands to reason, because we had over 10,000 people file an entry for the U.S. Open and 1,700 for the Women’s Open. In the future you’ll see that gap start to decrease, because we are seeing the number of entries in women’s championships grow a little bit faster proportionally than men’s. I think it was a great learning experience for us.”
And a grand experiment that couldn’t have ended any better.
Henderson Overtakes Lee for Low Amateur
For most of the U.S. Women’s Open, Minjee Lee of Australia was in contention not only to earn low-amateur honors, but also in the mix to win this 69th national championship.
But Lee, who began the final round tied for fourth at 2-over par, faded with a final-round 76 to finish tied for 22nd at 8-over 288.
“Pretty disappointing,” said Lee, 18, the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur and the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion. “But golf is golf, and you have bad days.”
Enter Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, 16, of Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Taking advantage of conducive scoring opportunities, Henderson shot a final-round 69 to tie for 10th at 5-over 285. No. 2 played to its shortest length of the week at 6,153 yards, and yielded 16 under-par rounds, three fewer than the previous three rounds combined.
Not only did Henderson earn the gold medal as low amateur, her top-10 finish gives her an exemption into next year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa.
“Coming in, I was trying to make the cut and then climb up the leader board, and I was able to do that,” Henderson said. “So I'm very happy.”
Henderson admitted that she was a bit intimidated by No. 2 when she first arrived. As the week wore on, though, she became more comfortable with the course’s subtleties.
“As I got playing and I started to hit the ball really well, I knew where to hit it on the fairways and where to hit it on the greens and I became much more confident,” said Henderson, who shot 71-73-72 the first three days. “Today, right now, I sort of wish there was another round to go back out there.”
At least there is next year.
Among others to earn exemptions for being in the top 10 were Stephanie Meadow, who finished solo third in her first professional start; Pornanong Phatlum, of Thailand, who tied for seventh; Sakura Yokomine, of Japan, who also tied for seventh; and Jenny Shin, 21, who tied for 10th in her fourth Open start.
Greg Midland is the USGA’s director of editorial and multimedia content. Stuart Hall and Jonathan Wilhelm contributed to this report.
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