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US Open to start its 2-week experiment

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 11, 2014 at 7:01 pm •  Published: June 11, 2014
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PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Too bad the USGA couldn't get Ernie Banks on the first tee Thursday to announce, "Let's play two!" Banks was known as "Mr. Cub," and he loved baseball so much he wished there could be a doubleheader every day.

That's effectively what awaits the USGA at Pinehurst No. 2.

For the first time in history, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open will be held on the same course in consecutive weeks. USGA executive director Mike Davis is excited about the grand experiment, though he's making no promises.

"Let me just stay that for the two weeks, our intent is to try to test both groups of golfers in a like manner," Davis said Wednesday. "Whether we're actually able to pull that off or not is another story that I think a lot of us — including me — are still waiting to see, although we're confident we can get pretty good at it."

The idea is to have men and women approach the greens with roughly the same type of shot.

Pinehurst will play 7,562 yards for the men and 6,649 yards for the women.

"If it happens to rain a lot in week two versus week one, we will take that under consideration in terms of how the golf course is set up," Davis said.

The comparison with men and women in golf is always the speed of the green. Davis said he intends to keep the putting surfaces at 12 on the Stimpmeter for both weeks. The difference is the greens for the Women's Open will be less firm.

"So if a male hits a 6-iron in, it reacts the same way as a 6-iron hit by the female," he said.

The big question has been divots that 156 players take over two days, and then roughly 70 more players take on the weekend. Davis doesn't expect that to be a problem. Playoff from divots is part of the game, anyway.

Davis thinks it will be a great week. If nothing else, he expects it to showcase women's golf. But he can't make any promises.

"I will acknowledge, this sounds swell on paper," Davis said. "Trying to execute it perfectly, I can almost guarantee you we won't do that."

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PEBBLE FUTURE: LPGA Tour players celebrated when the USGA announced nearly a decade ago that Pebble Beach would host a U.S. Women's Open. Seven years ago, when the U.S. Women's Open was at Pine Needles, former executive director David Fay said of the Women's Open going to Pebble, "We know the year — it's 2014 — but we have not finalized the date."

The year is 2014. The women are at Pinehurst No. 2.

As for Pebble Beach? That's no longer in the picture, at least for now.

USGA President Tom O'Toole said when the U.S. Open was at Pebble Beach in 2010, it was announced that the course along the Pacific Ocean would celebrate its centennial by hosting the 1918 U.S. Amateur and the 1919 U.S. Open.

"In those discussions, we mutually withdrew the concept of going there for '14 for the women," O'Toole said. "We will continue to advance the idea of taking the Women's Open to Pebble Beach.

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