Preview: 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf RunJuly 5th, 2012 |
It was obvious from swing number one at Tuesday’s practice round for the U.S. Women’s Open that Blackwolf Run is a majestic course like none other.
Blackwolf Run golf course in little Kohler Wisconsin takes the national stage this week, hosting the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship. The Original Championship Course at Blackwolf Run will be set up at 6,954 yards and will play to a par of 36-36-72. The course layout will incorporate holes 10-18 of the Meadow Valleys Course, and holes 1-4 and 14-18 of the River Course, the same layout that was used at the 1998 Women’s Open.
Preparation for this monumental event has been underway for years. The Championship course underwent extensive renovations in 2009 and 2010. All existing bunker sand was replaced, and tees, fairways, green complexes and green surrounds were re-seeded with new bentgrass.
The length of the course speaks for itself, but perhaps the most intimidating parts of the course are the undulating greens, making practice rounds that much more important.
The atypical course layout is demanding. Golfers shooting even par are rewarded. So Yeon Ryu won last year’s Championship with a score of three under par. In 1998, the last time the Women’s Championship was played at Blackwolf Run, Se Ri Pak won the tournament in a sudden death playoff with an official score of six over par.
The talent on the Women’s Tour in 2012 is as great as it has ever been. Any number of players can win this tournament, but Blackwolf demands an added level of mental toughness, particularly considering this week’s weather forecast.
The course, which was designed to play in its natural river valley environment lined with mature maple and oak trees, will certainly take many out of contention early. Holes 16-18 are as exciting and difficult as any finishing holes the golfers will see this year. A one or two-shot lead heading into the final three holes on Sunday afternoon will not be safe. This has the makings of a tournament long to be remembered.
The international contingent of golfers on the women’s tour brings interest from around the globe to Kohler, Wis. Most have their favorites and there will be large galleries following the likes of America’s Paula Creamer, Christie Kerr and Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, but there are others who might have a better chance to bring home the trophy.
With the nickname “Bam Bam,” 26-year-old Brittany Lincicome of St. Petersburg, Florida, certainly has the distance to take away some of Blackwolf’s bite, and the mental toughness to break through this weekend.
Yani Tseng, born in Taipei, currently sits atop the Rolex golf rankings and is the youngest player ever at age 23 to win five major championships. She does everything well and is the real deal.
Stacy Lewis has quite the story. From the age of 11 she wore a back brace 18 hours a day for more than seven years to correct her scoliosis, removing it only to play golf. After back fusion surgery and a strong collegiate career at the University of Arkansas she is currently one of the hottest golfers on the tour.
An accomplished piano player, South Korea’s Inbee Park has the putter to tame the greens at Blackwolf Run. Like Tseng, she is 23 years old, and has the game to be around come Sunday afternoon and steal a Championship away from some of the more well known players.
Japan’s Ai Miyazato is currently ranked number one on the tour’s money list and also tops the list in putting average and top 10 finishes. Miyazato started playing golf at age four, and credits her father as the individual most influencing her career. She is number three on the Rolex golf ranking and could continue her hot streak this weekend.
Spain’s 24-year-old Azahara Munoz (my official pick!) is currently ranked 4th on the tour’s money list and 14th on the Rolex golf ranking. She has been very competitive throughout the 2012 season. Her play around the greens this week may be just enough to win it all.
Blackwolf Run does everything top notch, so take some time to take in the world class course, enjoy world class treatment and world class golf.
Championship play will be conducted Thursday, July 5, through Sunday, July 8, with 18 holes of stroke play each day for the starting field of 156 golfers. After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 60 scorers (and ties).
If the championship is tied after four rounds, a three-hole aggregate playoff will take place immediately following the conclusion of the fourth round. If the playoff results in a tie, play will immediately continue hole-by-hole until a champion is determined.