I’m heading to Saucon Valley in…well, as soon as I finish this post. I attended the Men’s US Open last month at Bethpage Black, and I’m just as excited for the US Women’s Open (added bonus: no rain in the forecast, fingers crossed). To attend both this summer is a huge privilege. Three months ago, had someone told me I’d be doing this, I would have looked at them like they were crazy. Despite the LPGA’s leadership debacle, I think everyone is a professional and it won’t taint the grandeur this week (any more than it already has). In fact, I expect the vibe to be enthusiastic. I’m ready to catch some excellent golf at a fantastic course.
I’ve heard nothing but praise for Saucon Valley – and that it’s long. The course is set up to play 6,740 yards, par 71. The graduated rough concept will be in place. I expect it’s up and those who find themselves in the long grass will have trouble. That said, the players who hit the long ball will have an advantage. Those who bomb it off the tee won’t have to hit woods on their approach shots and will be able to control the ball better on the fast-rolling greens. However, I’m a strong believer that accuracy trumps length at the end of the day. I’ll have more to say once I actually walk the course this afternoon.
In related news, Natalie Gulbis and Michelle Wie, two of the most recognizable names in women’s golf, are not in the field this week. The USGA addressed a glitch in the qualifying procedure. On Wednesday evening, a presser was released announcing the decision to move from two-stages of qualfiying to a single stage.
For a more comprehensive look at the US Open, take a gander at the Constructivist’s and Hound Dog’s previews. Without further ado, here are some players who I’ll be watching for near the top of the leaderboard this week:
Jiyai Shin: I bet she’s on everyone’s list this week. She might have a disadvantage being a shorter hitter, but she sure is accurate. She’s the third best golfer in the world. She ranks first in driving accuracy and third in greens in regulation. Jiyai also has momentum on her side, winning two weeks ago at Wegman’s. To put it simply, she’s having an awesome year.
Lorena Ochoa: She’s the world number one ranked golfer and she has two wins already this season. However, as of late, she hasn’t done anything noteworthy, but she’s still placed in the top 25 in the past three tournaments. I wouldn’t bet against her.
Yani Tseng: She stripes it off the tee – leading the Tour in driving distance. Yani won the Corning Classic in May. In the past two tournaments, she’s placed T6 and T2. She’s a name you’ll always see in the hunt.
Suzann Pettersen: She hits the long ball, ranking fourth in driving distance on tour. She fell ill during the LPGA Championship and had to W/D. It appears she’s recuperated as she placed T6 last week at the Jamie Farr Classic. She’s placed in the top-10 in six other events, bu hasn’t won this year…YET. She’s due. Why not it be the most coveted of them all?
Stacy Lewis: This rookie won Q-school in December. In her past two tournaments, she’s placed in the top ten. It looks like she’s getting closer to fulfilling those high expectations. She’s also an excellent ballstriker so the course should favor her game. She has a good record at the US Open, finishing third last year.
Here’s to a memorable week at the 64th US Open! Stay tuned for more from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.