SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – The competitors of the 2013 U.S. Women’s
Open at Sebonack Golf Club are a diverse group. They range in age from two-time
U.S. Women’s Open champion Juli Inkster, who turned 53 on Monday, to
14-year-old Nelly Korda.
Representing 23 countries, the players have come from halfway
around the world and just down the road. Two-time champion Karrie Webb grew up
in Queensland, Australia, 9,600 miles from Sebonack, while amateur Annie Park
hails from Levittown on Long Island.
No matter where they are from or how old they are, whether
they are professionals or amateurs, the bond that the 156 players in the field
share is the elite position that the U.S. Women’s Open holds in their hearts
“Winning the U.S. Open has always been my dream,” said Yani
Tseng, of Chinese Taipei, the top-ranked player in the Rolex Rankings from
February 2011 to March 2013.
“Honestly, playing in the U.S. Open was my dream when I was an amateur. Now, I
can not just play, but I can think about winning this tournament. It’s huge for
me. I really appreciate it and I’m very, very happy to be here just playing
Stacy Lewis succeeded Tseng as the No. 1 player in the world
earlier this year and held the mantle for four weeks. Both players have won
multiple LPGA tournaments, including majors. But a win in the most demanding,
most prestigious championship in women’s golf would be an unmatched career
highlight for either player.
“If you’re a U.S. player, this is your national
championship,” said Lewis, who tied for third in 2008 but hasn’t been in
contention since. “This is the tournament you want to win. It’s definitely been
my nemesis the last few years.”
In addition to being the championship that everyone wants to
win most, the U.S. Women’s Open usually provides the toughest test. For
winners, having overcome these obstacles adds to the sense of accomplishment.
“When you walk out of the clubhouse, you know that the golf
course is going to be a great test of golf,” said 2010 U.S. Women’s Open
champion Paula Creamer. “You know it’s going to challenge you in so many ways.”
The course and setup are at the heart of what distinguishes
the U.S. Women’s Open from other championships. Designed by Tom Doak and
eight-time USGA champion Jack Nicklaus, Sebonack Golf Club is the latest
addition to a roster of memorable championship venues, ranging from modern gems
such as Blackwolf Run and Pumpkin Ridge to historic courses such as Oakmont and
“The primary importance in the U.S. Women’s Open is the golf
course,” said Tom O’Toole, a USGA vice president and chairman of the
Championship Committee. “That is paramount to everything: Can the golf course
test the greatest players in the world?”
Not surprisingly, the game’s best players have been best
equipped to handle these challenges and win the championship over the years. Among
the multiple U.S. Women’s Open champions are Betsy Rawls, Mickey Wright, Babe
Didrikson Zaharias, JoAnne Carner and Annika Sorenstam.
Thanks largely to its champions, the U.S. Women’s Open
possesses a rich history, which is an integral characteristic that adds to both
its prestige and difficulties.
“I think for the U.S. Open, it’s just not about a course,”
said Tseng. “I think it’s the pressure. The U.S. Open pressure is going to make
Tseng, 24, and Lewis, 28, will have additional opportunities
to fulfill their dreams. But just as a U.S. Women’s Open victory can be a
capstone, not winning can also define a career, the way it has for six-time
U.S. Open runner-up Phil Mickelson.
Two of the greatest players in history, Kathy Whitworth and
Nancy Lopez, have won 136 LPGA Tour events between them. But none of the titles
has been the most prestigious in women’s golf.
In 1975, Lopez tied for second as an amateur in her second
U.S. Women’s Open, then added three more runner-up finishes in 24 subsequent
“I think four seconds should equal a first,” said Lopez at
her final U.S. Women’s Open, in 2002. “Winning the U.S. Open would have been a
thrill for me. I would love to have won it, but if you’re not meant to win the
U.S. Open, you’re not going to win it no matter how hard you try.
“If I would have won the U.S. Open, I would have
brought my sleeping bag and camped out on 18 and stayed there all night long. I
swore I would do that.”
The winner of the 2013 U.S. Open probably won’t pitch a tent
outside the Sebonack clubhouse, but she will leave with an indelible place in
golf history as well as the most coveted trophy in women’s golf.
Hunki Yun is the
USGA’s digital publisher and web content manager. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.