Las Vegas, Nevada (July 7, 2010)–The United States Womens Open is being played at, arguably, the toughest golf course in the world, Oakmont Country Club, in Pennsylvania. Jeremy Anderson, a former PGA Tour player and member of the 1998 UNLV NCAA championship team, told us recently that Oakmont was by far and away the most difficult course he'd experienced. And Las Vegas resident Natalie Gulbis was recently quoted in Golfweek as saying that if the USGA wants to embarass the golfers, they can, because of the penal nature of the layout. Gulbis is one of a few golfers with strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses in the field this week. .–By Brian Hurlburt. Photo J Rick Martin.
"Will you see some high scores? Yes," said Mike Davis, Senior Director, Rules and Competitions, for the USGA. "This is the absolute hardest golf course that we have chosen for a Women's Open Championship, just like I said it was for the men's championship. So will you see some higher scores? Absolutely. But I also think that when we set up a golf course up, what we're trying to do is identify a national champion. We're really focused on not kind of the bottom of the field — and let me just say we have to be focused on the bottom of the field with respect to forced carries and things like that. But with respect to the setup of the course, we are very much focused on — I don't know how to say it — maybe the top half of the field and saying we're trying to identify the best player, all things considered, this week. So that's — so if we see a few high scores, I think you just chalk it up to the U.S. Open is supposed to be the toughest test in golf. Oakmont is truly one of the toughest tests in this country. I think you put those two things together and it's a recipe for some players who aren't on their games shooting a high score."
Davis has earned the respect and admiration of the world's best players since he took over course setups for the major USGA championships. At the US Mens Open earlier this year at Pebble Beach, Phil Mickelson called Davis "the best asset the USGA has." Davis is known for making courses very challenging but not brutally unfair as some Open setups were accused of before he took over operations and course strategy. So expectations are for a difficult challenge but one that won't embarass anyone.
"I have played Oakmont a few times, and it's going to be a true test of golf for us this week," Gulbis tweeted recently. "Very difficult golf course." Gulbis was also part of a sponsor event for Lexus, emceed by Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Sheehan. Other golfers with strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses playing include Las Vegas resident Charlotte Mayorkas, who recently won the second event on 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Tour at Blue Springs Golf Club in Acton, Ont. Also playing is former Nevada State High School Champ Inbee Park, who won the 2008 US Womens Open. Gulbis trains with Las Vegas resident Butch Harmon at his school which is located at Rio Secco Golf Club, a resort Las Vegas golf course. Click now to view the official website of Rio Secco, a Rees Jones design.
"I knew that coming in today, it was going to be tough,” Mayorkas was quoted by TheGlobeandMail.com as saying about her win in Canada. “There were a lot of good players at the top of the leaderboard, and I just had to stay patient because of the wind and the weather. This is my first year playing in the CN Canadian Women’s Tour and I love it. It’s a great opportunity for women to play.” Mayorkas has playing and practice privileges at Las Vegas National Golf Club, one of the more historic Las Vegas golf courses. Head pro, Vic Wilk, says she was spending a lot of time there earlier in the year but hasn't seen her much in awhile. Click now to view the official website of Las Vegas National Golf Club.