CHAMPIONSHIPS
2017 Preview: Get Pumped for USGA Championships January 6, 2017 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By Greg Midland and David Shefter, USGA

All eyes will be focused on Erin Hills this June when the U.S. Open is conducted in Wisconsin for the first time. (USGA/John Mummert)

Calendars are flipped, resolutions are made and one goal is the focus for tens of thousands of competitors from more than 75 countries around the globe: to qualify for, contend in and, ultimately, win a USGA championship. The 2017 season promises enticing drama as players aim to be in peak form for the most comprehensive tests in the game. Here’s a preview of what you need to know. 

Texas teens Hailee Cooper (left) and Kaitlyn Papp will defend their Women's Amateur Four-Ball title at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

3rd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
May 27-31

Can anyone stop the teen dominance of the first two championships? High school golfers claimed the titles in 2015 (at Bandon Dunes) and 2016 (at Streamsong Resort) and the defending champions from Texas – Hailee Cooper and Kaitlyn Papp – are looking to repeat. One experienced tandem to watch is Dawn Woodard and Meghan Stasi, the latter of whom has claimed four U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur titles and represented the USA on the 2008 Curtis Cup Team.
 

Mid-Amateur stalwarts Nathan Smith (left) and Todd White head to Pinehurst in May seeking a second title in three years. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship
Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Village of Pinehurst, N.C.
May 27-31

For the third consecutive year, the championship will be contested on a U.S. Open venue. Competitors will need to have their games in top form to succeed on Pinehurst’s venerable No. 2 course – the site of the 1999, 2005 and 2014 U.S. Opens, with a fourth coming in 2024 (the resort’s No. 8 course will serve as the companion course for the stroke-play portion of the championship). It will be interesting to see whether the championship’s presence in the Sandhills will favor a mid-amateur side such as inaugural (2015) champions Nathan Smith and Todd White or a younger pair like the reigning champions from SMU, Benjamin Baxter and Andrew Buchanan.
 

Carved from rolling terrain sculpted by glaciers, 10-year-old Erin Hills will provide a dramatic U.S. Open venue for the world's elite players. (USGA/John Mummert)

117th U.S. Open Championship
Erin Hills, Erin, Wis.
June 15-18

The U.S. Open returns to the Midwest and comes to the Badger State for the first time in June at Erin Hills, a 10-year-old course 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Two previous USGA championships have been contested on this dramatic venue that was carved from rolling land sculpted by glaciers: the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links (Tiffany Joh) and the 2011 U.S. Amateur (Kelly Kraft). Now, the heartland course built by architects Dr. Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Ron Whitten is poised to test the game’s best players on golf’s grandest stage.
 

Tom Watson is always a sentimental favorite, and he's likely to be one of the few players in this year's field to have played Salem C.C. in 2001. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

38th U.S. Senior Open Championship
Salem Country Club, Peabody, Mass.
June 29-July 2

Tom Watson will be two months from his 68th birthday when the best 50-and-over golfers assemble just north of Boston, but it’s safe to assume the 1982 U.S. Open champion would be a sentimental favorite. Sixteen years ago, Watson tied for 16th when the Senior Open was last contested on this Donald Ross design. And what better place to produce an improbable first Senior Open triumph. It was at Salem Country Club in 1954 when Babe Didrikson Zaharias won the last of her three U.S. Women’s Open titles a month removed from colon cancer surgery and two years before she would die from the disease.
 

Brittany Lang's brilliant run to last year's U.S. Women's Open title endeared the Texan to fans on and off the golf course. (USGA/J.D. Cuban)

72nd U.S. Women’s Open Championship
Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, N.J.
July 13-16

Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko combined for nine LPGA Tour victories, including two majors, in 2016, and there’s no reason to believe these two young stars – Jutanugarn is 21 and Ko 19 – won’t continue that trend in 2017. Ko was in position to claim last year’s U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle until a couple of hiccups midway through the final round derailed her title hopes. Barring injury, both are likely to arrive at this summer’s championship as favorites to hoist the most coveted trophy in the women’s game. Of course, defending champion Brittany Lang, who won her first major title in a dramatic playoff over Anna Nordqvist, might have something to say about that.
 

Min Woo Lee, of Australia, can join Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth as a multiple U.S. Junior Amateur champion. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

70th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship
Flint Hills National, Andover, Kan.
July 17-22

Can Min Woo Lee become the first 18-year-old to win the U.S. Junior Amateur and become the championship’s third multi-time winner? The Australian can join Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth as the only multiple champions, but he can achieve something those two didn’t. Last summer, the USGA changed the maximum eligible age from  17 to 18  for both this and the U.S. Girls’ Junior to further enhance the strength of the championship fields. Lee turned 18 shortly after winning his championship in July at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., but under these new guidelines, he’ll get a chance to defend.
 

Eun Jeong Seong has been an inspiration for future U.S. Girls' Junior competitors. The 17-year-old Korean shoots for a rare three-peat this July. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

69th U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship
Boone Valley Golf Club, Augusta, Mo.
July 24-29

It is rare for any player to have the opportunity to go for a three-peat in a USGA championship, but that’s exactly what Eun Jeong Seong, of the Republic of Korea, has this year. Seong, who turned 17 on Oct. 31, made history in 2016 by not only defending her U.S. Girls’ Junior title, but also winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur two weeks later, becoming the first to win both titles in the same year. A victory in the Girls’ Junior would match the feat of Hollis Stacy (1969-71) and also give her four USGA titles before her 18th birthday, something no golfer has achieved.
 

Talented young players such as Lucy Li have become a fixture in the U.S. Women's Amateur with teenagers winning the last eight titles. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

117th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship
San Diego Country Club, Chula Vista, Calif.
August 7-13

Teenagers have continued their dominance of America’s oldest women’s amateur championship as none of the last eight champions have been older than 19. Former Duke University All-American Amanda Blumenherst (2008) is the last non-teen to hoist the Robert Cox Trophy. The drought has been even longer for mid-amateurs (25 and older) with Cathy Sherk (then 28) being the last to win the Women’s Amateur in 1978. 
 

The U.S. Amateur returns to Southern California for the first time in 41 years this August when Riviera Country Club hosts the 117th playing. (USGA/J.D. Cuban)

117th U.S. Amateur Championship
Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, Calif.
August 14-20

While Riviera annually hosts a PGA Tour event each February, the USGA has only visited twice: the 1948 U.S. Open (Ben Hogan) and 1998 U.S. Senior Open (Hale Irwin). With the U.S. Amateur returning to Southern California for the first time in 41 years, Riviera gets to take center stage in August. The companion stroke-play venue is nearby Bel-Air Country Club – like Riviera a George C. Thomas design – which hosted the 1976 U.S. Amateur won by Bill Sander.
 

The U.S. Senior Amateur has a rare August slot as the historic Minikahda Club in Minneapolis hosts this year's championship. (USGA/Fred Vuich) 

63rd U.S. Senior Amateur Championship
Minikahda Club, Minneapolis, Minn.
August 26-31

For only the second time in its history, the championship will take place prior to Labor Day weekend. Maybe it’s a Minnesota thing. In 1956, the U.S. Senior Amateur was played Aug. 20-25 at Somerset Country Club in St. Paul, which happens to be situated across the Mississippi River from this year’s site. The most accomplished field of 55-and-older amateurs will face an exacting Donald Ross design that hosted the 1916 U.S. Open, won by Chick Evans, and the 1927 U.S. Amateur, won by Bob Jones.
 

Ellen Port shoots for a remarkable eighth USGA championshp in September when she defends her U.S. Senior Women's Amateur title. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

56th U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship
Waverley Country Club, Portland, Ore.
September 9-14

Ellen Port joined an elite group of golfers last fall when the St. Louis resident claimed her seventh USGA championship. When she travels to the Pacific Northwest in early September, she’ll not only be shooting for her fourth Senior Women’s Amateur title to join the likes of Carol Semple Thompson, Anne Sander, Dorothy Porter and Carolyn Cudone (she won five), but she can tie World GolfHall of Fame member JoAnne Gunderson Carner for the most female titles in USGA history. It would also be one shy of the all-time record of nine held by Bob Jones and Tiger Woods. Rarified air indeed.
 

The 10-man USA Team will be looking to reclaim the Walker Cup from Great Britain & Ireland in September at The Los Angeles Country Club. (USGA/John Mummert) 

46th Walker Cup Match
The Los Angeles Country Club, Los Angeles, Calif.
September 9-10

The USA will be looking to reclaim the Walker Cup from Great Britain & Ireland when The Los Angeles Country Club hosts just the third Walker Cup Match conducted on the West Coast. Like Riviera and Bel-Air, LACC is a George C. Thomas original, thus completing the triumvirate of USGA competitions on these courses within four weeks. The Americans are coming off a decisive 16.5-9.5 loss in 2015 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, its worst setback since losing consecutive matches by 15-9 scores in 1999 and 2001. The USA, which owns a 35-9-1 lead in the biennial competition, has not lost on home soil since 2001.
 

Four-time champion Georgia is the only state with multiple titles in the USGA Women's State Team Championship. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

12th USGA Women’s State Team Championship
The Club at Las Campanas, Santa Fe, N.M.
September 26-28

For just the second time, a USGA event is coming to New Mexico. The 1999 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at Santa Ana Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo was the first championship to be conducted in the Land of Enchantment. The Sunrise Course at The Club at Las Campanas in Santa Fe, a Jack Nicklaus design, hosts the 12th edition of the Women’s State Team, an event that has been dominated by Georgia. Georgia has won four of the first 11 and is the only state with multiple titles.
 

Another U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur title would place Meghan Stasi in elite company among those with five USGA titles in the same championship. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

31st U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship
Quail Creek Country Club, Naples, Fla.
October 7-12

Only four golfers can say they’ve won the same USGA championship five times. Glenna Collett Vare and JoAnne Gunderson Carner claimed six and five U.S. Women’s Amateur titles, respectively, and Carolyn Cudone won the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur five consecutive years (1968-72) during an era when the event was conducted solely at stroke play. Bob Jones also won five U.S. Amateurs between 1924 and 1930. Meghan Stasi has had that chance in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur since claiming her record-tying fourth title in 2012. Stasi, who turns 39 in May, will be competing in her adopted home state but will have to overcome stiff competition from a growing number of younger competitors, notably Margaret (Shirley) Starosto, Lauren Greenlief and defending champion Julia Potter; the latter two are still under 30 and the former will be 31 when the championship commences.
 

Stewart Hagestad quickly elevated himself among the world's elite mid-amateurs with his tremendous performance last fall in Pennsylvania. (USGA/Chris Keane)

37th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship
Capital City Club, Atlanta, Ga.
October 7-12

Stewart Hagestad, of Newport Beach, Calif., would be hard-pressed to match what he accomplished a year ago at Stonewall in Elverson, Pa., when the 25-year-old birdied four of his last five holes in rallying to beat 2014 champion Scott Harvey in an epic final that went 37 holes. Even if he doesn’t manage to successfully defend his title this year, it would not be a surprise at all to see Hagestad’s name mentioned prominently in USGA championships for years to come. Capital City becomes the third Georgia facility to host this championship for 25-and-older golfers, joining Atlanta Athletic Club (1984) and Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island (2004).

Greg Midland is the director of editorial content for the USGA, while David Shefter is a senior staff writer. Email them at gmidland@usga.org and dshefter@usga.org.

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