US Women's Open @ Oakmont: A 2nd Glance
Would you like to venture a guess as to how many email transcripts I received from Beth Murrison of the USGA today? SIX! (plus four more emails defining various aspects of media coverage of that major event at Oakmont Country Club). Since I know that not everyone is privy to the goings-on from a day of preparation (T-minus two, as I count, before Thursday’s first round), I’m going to share with you the most intriguing quotes or revelations from each of six important contestants in the 2010 USGA Women’s Open.
Let’s begin with Christie Kerr, she of the 12-stroke victory a fortnight ago in the LPGA Championship. Kerr and her husband have an investment property in Manhattan, not exactly a hotbed of practice golfing grounds. Guess how she practices while she is in that dreary old place?
“I actually represent the golf course Liberty National that hosted the Barclay’s last year. They have actually ‑ I’m pretty spoiled ‑ they have a boat that goes back and forth to Manhattan, so I don’t have to fight the Holland Tunnel traffic too often.” How nice it must be to move so smoothly from NYC to NJ, with nary a thought about traffic. At least she’s open and honest!
Next up is Michelle Wie. I’d love to be able to give you something, but the questions lobbed at her were helium-filled softballs. She is truly a kid with a very narrow view of the world. When asked how things were going and if she was a Phi Beta Kappa (an honors and honorary fraternity), she responded “No sorority for me yet, but it’s been fun. It’s been a lot of fun. You know, it’s great, but I want to do better this year, and I just want to keep doing better and better. College is fun; it’s a lot of hard work. It all pays off in the end." What I find sad about Michelle Wie is that questions are more concerned with her as a sideshow act than as a contender. Did she consider driving certain greens? Her answer was usually, yes. When asked about the most unique architectural characteristic of the course, the Church Pew bunkers, she missed an opportunity to expound on it with ” It’s pretty interesting. Whoever thought of ‑‑ the designer who thought of putting them in, it’s a pretty smart idea. It’s pretty intimidating when you’re looking at it and you see the lines of bunkers and you know it’s not just a couple bunkers, it’s all just one big bunker. It brings a unique characteristic to the golf course, and hopefully I could just look at them and not be in them all week.”
Next up was wunderkind Alexis Thompson, former amateur star and Curtis Cup heroine. I truly wish I had something from that transcript, but…more softballs. Why did you turn pro? What are you doing next? Going to try college some day? Really, there’s no meat in those questions.
So we move on to Ji-Yai Shin, the woman I think is the real #1 (Sorry, Christie!) in the world. If it weren’t for an appendectomy two weeks ago, we might be asking her about her latest major championship. Shin has to use a translator, unfortunately, so the questions dealt mainly with recovery, the heat, and a uniquely confusing exchange about an IV and long irons. Maybe the heat is affecting everyone!
Next up, the Pink Panther herself, Paula Creamer. Coming back after ulnar collateral ligament and volar plate tears, Creamer is humble about expectations. She discusses the temptation of attempting to drive the short par fours: “And the USGA, they entice you. They want you to bite, and I bit. I bit pretty hard.You know, you learn from that. A lot of maturity, a lot of, you know, I think I can do this. You know, you can’t ever take away, you know, player’s instinct, that’s for sure. But at that time I probably ‑‑ I obviously made the wrong decision, but I also hit a couple of bad shots, too. So it works both ways.” A shocking admission was the 3 hour-40 minute back nine she played in practice. If that’s the case, the USGA will have quite a challenge on its hands as the week progresses and players REALLY bear down and focus.
The final witness to testify to the extremity of Oakmont was Ai Miyazato. The majority of her testimony came through translation, but her evidence concerned undulation of greens, speeds so fast that balls were being putted off greens, and an attempt on her part to envision just how much the putting surfaces would force curvature on the putt: “Well, I heard that the greens this week are going to be very difficult, so I imagined, you know, making putts that break a lot at the golf course that I practice at. But my imagination and putting here really didn’t match. They broke way more than I imagined.”
I’ll be back tomorrow with more testimony from the contestants. I’m hoping that Christina Kim, Natalie Gulbis and some other ribald, honest souls make it to the podium.
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It still amazes me that Michelle's English level never got past the seventh grade. I do not expect her to make the cut and her first round score will be pushing 80. As we have witnessed, her game since the Solheim Cup has steadily declined and I do not see her winning any tournaments in 2010 nor see her having any top tens. With her, it is always "my game is a work in progress."
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