Some of the world’s top female golfers descended on the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton on a foggy afternoon on Wednesday to get a taste of the course that will host the U.S. Women’s Open next summer.
Irene Cho, Jimin Kang, Sara Brown and 2007 Open champion Cristie Kerr played alongside several members of the local community, including sponsors and other guests of Sebonack, and got a sense of what they’ll be in for when they return next year to battle more than 150 of their peers for the ultimate prize.
The Open will take place from June 24-30, and more than 130,000 spectators are expected to attend throughout the week.
Before getting out on the course on the damp day, Brown and Cho spoke about their careers and what they are expecting when they come back to the area next summer with the championship on the line. The young players don’t yet have the credentials of Kerr, who won the Open in 2007, or more notable names like Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer, but they said that part of the reason they are excited for the Open is because it’s the type of tournament that rewards whoever can bring their best game on those given days, and anyone who plays well has a chance to win.
Brown, 26, made her debut on the LPGA tour in 2011, but played on the Symmetra Tour this year. After a difficult debut season on the LPGA tour, she was forced to go back to Q School and failed to qualify, forcing her to join the Symmetra Tour. She just finished her season on that mini-tour on Sunday, and it was a success—she finished 12th on the money list. Brown will be heading back to Q School in December and is hoping to earn a spot on the LPGA tour again. Brown started playing golf when she was just 8 years old, following in the footsteps of her older brother, Josh.
Like Brown, Cho, 28, also picked up a golf club at a young age, starting when she was 11 years old. Golf was in her family’s blood too. “My Dad plays every day,” she said.
Cho is in her sixth year on the LPGA tour, but she said she’s coming off a rough season and is hoping things turn around in 2013.
“This was probably the worst of my six years on tour,” she said. “I’m going to go into next year with a little more positive attitude and get some mental strength.”
Cho has certainly had success in the past, however. The California native finished tied for sixth in the LPGA McDonald’s Championships in 2008 and won more than $170,000 that season.
On Wednesday, the young golfers spoke about Sebonack and what they are expecting before getting out on the course to play that afternoon. Brown had played in a pro-am at the course in the past, but Cho was about to play the course for the first time. Brown said she didn’t remember which holes specifically were the most challenging, but she did remember that there were plenty of bunkers in tough spots which she said will make things interesting. “I think it’s going to be a great challenge,” she said.
Brown, who hails from Arizona, said she’s considered a rather long hitter despite her small stature, and she’s hoping her ability to hit the ball far can help her fly over some of the more challenging bunkers. She said she’ll be giving a lot of attention to her short game leading up to the Open too, however. “Putters win this game,” she said. “That’s really key.”
Cho echoed those sentiments. “I always try to work on everything, but the key is going to be the short game,” she said. “That’s how every Open course is prepared. Everyone at this stage can hit the ball.”
Aside from the business at hand of getting to know the course, Brown and Cho said they were enjoying what was a short stay in the Hamptons. They stayed overnight in the guest cottages on the grounds of Sebonack, and they had rave reviews.
“They’re immaculate,” Brown said. “I feel like I’m living in the countryside, it’s really nice.”
For more information on the Open, visit 2013uswomensopen.com.