USGA, WGT To Launch Free Virtual U.S. Open Championship

March 25, 2009

Far Hills, N.J. - The United States Golf Association and World Golf Tour (WGT) announced Wednesday that they have formed an agreement to host the first Virtual U.S. Open Championship on .

Developed in partnership with Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y., the Virtual U.S. Open will take place on a state-of-the-art simulation of the Black Course at Bethpage, allowing golf enthusiasts everywhere to play an online golf championship from their computers at no cost, at the same time and on virtually the same course as the actual U.S. Open competitors in June.

Visitors to , the official Web site of the U.S. Open, can play qualifying rounds for the Virtual U.S. Open, beginning May 25 through June 21 . The top 156 qualifiers plus ties will then square off for the Virtual U.S. Open title on June 22 . The winner will be crowned the USGA Virtual U.S. Open Champion and will be a guest of the USGA at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.

A closest-to-the-hole challenge on WGT's virtual Bethpage Black will be available starting April 13, on for players to test their skills, before the Virtual U.S. Open qualifying rounds begin.

"This is a unique opportunity for fans to experience a very realistic online representation of the Black Course at Bethpage State Park," said Alex Withers, USGA managing director of Digital Media. "We are thrilled to be able to bring this product to golf fans around the world and to be working with World Golf Tour on this exciting project."

WGT has utilized its patented technology to bring Bethpage Black to life online. First, nearly 100,000 high-definition images were taken of the course from the ground and with helicopters using precisely mapped GPS coordinates. These images and additional data collected from the course were then translated through WGT's proprietary physics engine to enable players to virtually experience Bethpage Black within a photo landscape. Championship tees and hole locations, U.S. Open-quality rough and accurate green contours and speeds all combine to make this the most realistic championship golf experience ever offered online.

"Through WGT's association with the USGA, fans now have the opportunity to get more involved in one of golf's four major championships," said YuChiang Cheng, CEO of World Golf Tour. "This opportunity is a strong step forward in demonstrating the ability of WGT's platform to integrate live events with an online experience. We are honored to be working with the USGA to bring players the Virtual U.S. Open, with some of the pressure and elation that the real competitors feel."


World Golf Tour (WGT) offers the most authentic online golf experience, making the game of golf accessible and affordable to all. With its patented no-install HD technology and free-to-play social networking format, WGT enables players to tour exclusive courses worldwide, learn the rules of the game, test equipment, and stay connected with friends. WGT's partner sponsors such as Pinehurst Resort and Kiawah Island Resort provide exclusive luxury benefits such as premium products, prizes and tournament purses. For more information, please visit .

About the USGA
The United States Golf Association is golf's governing body in the USA and Mexico, a combined area that includes more than half the world's golfers and golf courses. We are passionate about, dedicated to and experts in the game of golf. Based on a shared love and respect for golf, we preserve its past, foster its future and champion its best interests for everyone who loves, respects and enjoys the game.
Each season, we conduct the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Senior Open and 10 national amateur championships, including the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Amateur. The USGA also writes and interprets the Rules of Golf, regulates and tests golf equipment, provides research-based turf management expertise, maintains the USGA handicap and course rating system, celebrates the history of the game and supports grassroots programs through its "For the Good of the Game" initiative.

Partner Links
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The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

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Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

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IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

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Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

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Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

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