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IT’S NOT EVERY YEAR the USGA launches a new U.S. Open, so the first U.S. Senior Women’s Open taking place this week at the historic Chicago Golf Club is both a special and history making championship.
For many of the players involved and the other major names of women’s golf over the last several decades, this championship in their minds is coming a few years too late, but they are glad that it has finally arrived at the first tee.
Former U.S. Women’s Open Champion Pat Bradley has told the media in several interviews, that she has been waiting for this tee time for 16 years. Bradley admits for some time she thought she might miss this tee time all together, but she has been working on her game and is ready to give this championship her best shot.
Among those not playing this week that would have made the great field even better include, Nancy Lopez who is still on the mend from a knee replacement surgery, Meg Mallon back issues, and several time USGA Amateur Champion Carol Semple-Thompson.
The USGA has said several players who can not play, will be at the championship to show their support of this first championship and the commitment to it by the USGA.
The USGA to it’s credit is making sure the players are treated like the players are at any U.S Open, with courtesy cars and other perks that come with playing for a national championship. In fact, in order to give the players time to prepare for Round 1 on Thursday. The gates are closed to the public on Monday and Tuesday, with only limited access on Wednesday.
The players that have spoke about the championship are all being asked who is the favorite?
One name keeps coming up and that is Juli Inkster who the U.S. Women’s Open in both 1999 and in 2002. Speaking with Golfers on Golf at the recently played Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes Golf Club Inkster said,”I’m looking forward to this championship. It comes ten years too late for some of the players, but it is a step forward for women’s golf.” Inkster said earlier this year she was not playing well, but recently has starting hitting the ball better and that her putting is coming around. She was expected to play a practice round at Chicago Golf this past week as part of her preparation. Inkster said she enjoys the older classic golf courses especially many of the ones in the Northeast part of the country.
As for winning the first U.S. Sr. Women’s Open and becoming a club of “one” to win both U.S. Women’s Opens Inkster said,” that would be something and it’s always a feather in your cap to win a USGA championship.”
Speaking at the Chicago District Golf Associations Centennial dinner in 2014, USGA President and CEO Mike Davis said the USGA’s concern about this championship was getting it started and then pulling it off the table due to lack of interest or filling the field. This years field has been set at 120 players. One has to believe that based on the amount of players that are playing or tried to qualify, the championship (462) should be here for years to come.
The tee times have been set for the first two rounds of the championship. The first group off the first tee is JoAnne Carner, Hollis Stacy and Sandra Palmer, Carner will hit the first ball to start the first round at 7 am local CST. Inkster will head off the first tee in round one at 7:55.
One player that should not be overlooked is Trish Johnson from England. Johnson won the first ever senior women’s major championship, when she won the Sr LPGA Championship last summer at the French Lick Resort on the tough Pete Dye Golf Course.
The Chicago Golf Club will be set by the USGA to a yardage of 6.82 yards and a Par of 73. With the 18th hole that normally plays as Par 4, being switched to Par 5 for the championship. Rating and slope for the championship is 76.7 and 142.
Tickets for the championship can be purchased at usseniorwomensopen.com. One day trophy tickets start at $30, there are other ticket options available. Junior golfers 18 and under are free. Fox Sports 1 FS1 will afternoon coverage on the weekend from 4-6 pm EST.
After the first 36 holes holes, the field will be cut to the low 50 and ties. In case of a tie after 72 holes on Sunday, the new USGA playoff format of a two hole aggregate playoff will decide the championship. If the players are still tied after two holes, the championship will then move to a sudden death result,
There has been one recent change to the field. 1982 U.S Women’s Open Champion Janet Anderson has withdrawn due to a family emergency. Janie Simons the 1st alternate from an eastern regional qualifier has replaced Anderson.
The winner of this years championship will hold the title for only 10 months, as next years U.S. Women’s Sr. Open will be played from May 16-19 at Peggy Kirk Bell’s Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines North Carolina.
With the addition of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship, the USGA is now conducting 14 championships.