We’ll give you a behind-the-scenes look at one of the LPGA Tour’s best tournaments of the season, where all 10 of the LPGA’s Top 10 players in the world are entered into the field. Outside the top 10? Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Cristie Kerr, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle Wie, Se Ri Pak, Laura Davies, Juli Inkster – they’re all here, too.
Also here are, heretofore affectionately known (at least to us), the Pinehurst 6. All six players on Tour who are previous North and South Women’s Amateur champions – Austin Ernst (2012), Danielle Kang (2011, Alison Walshe (2007), Tseng (2005), Pressel (04) and Brittany Lang (2003).
Any requests? Leave us a comment below and we’ll try to get to it. Let’s head to the tee.
Paula Creamer arrives at the Kingsmill’s practice green, much to the delight of the fans.
10:15Paula Creamer arrives to the practice green. Fans had been lining up in the area as soon as her bag appeared in the area – some 20 minutes before she arrived.
Morgan Pressel tees off on the 10th at the Kingsmill’s River Course. This shot brought a loud sigh – and a re-tee.
10:32 As Creamer walks out, Morgan Pressel walks right on by, signing a few autographs for those who recognize her, as she heads from the 9th green to the 10th tee.
Lexi Thompson takes some time to visit with a young fan.
THIS is what the LPGA Tour is selling. Their motto: “See why it’s DIFFERENT out here.” Lexi Thompson took a few minutes to hang out with a young fan.
11 a.m.-3 p.m. A few notes after spending four hours on the range:
Creamer wasn’t scheduled to play a practice round until later this afternoon, but put in a full day’s work. She spent nearly two hours on the putting green, and then another two hours on the range. She’s methodical with her routine, taking time in between shots, but she was here to work. She’s a bona fide star in golf, and much of it appears to be well-earned.
Also, Creamer usually has anywhere from 4-5 people around her at all times. She’s accessible to media and fans, but one thing is clear on the LPGA Tour – there are THE stars, and there’s a lot of everybody else.
Michelle Wie is striking in person, and on the range Tuesday, worked through one of the more unusual practice routines. After working through her bag, Wie interchanged clubs with each shot, going from wedge to driver to long iron to fairway wood, or some combination of that. Seemed odd. And no one has as exaggerated a follow-through as Wie.
In the four hours watching players come, hit and go on the range, no one – NO ONE – had as much power as five-time major champion Yani Tseng. Just a wow factor watching her hit balls. The sound off the club, her rocket-high ball flight and strength was unmatched. And it wasn’t close.
Karrie Webb is a machine. Not saying that in a bad way. Just a gorgeous, tight, fluid – and repeatable – swing. No wonder she won seven majors – including two U.S. Opens – and is in the Hall of Fame.
The news conference will begin at 1 p.m. and the Pinehurst Blog will provide a live, running diary of the event. Refresh this page often to get a behind-the-scenes look at the news conference as we report live from Pinehurst.
The stage is set for today’s USGA news conference to preview the 2014 back-to-back U.S. Opens in Pinehurst.
7 a.m. Already tables, chairs, staging and video are in place for the news conference, which is still six hours away. Media are expected to arrive around noon.
Today’s centerpiece at each table.
10:37 a.m. While Reg Jones takes a moment to practice – and pantomime – his prepared remarks at the podium in a dimmed St. Andrews Room, the Pinehurst staff works on putting the finishing touches at each table, including a centerpiece that can only be found at Pinehurst.
Reg Jones: “We just want to send our thoughts and prayers to everyone in Boston.”
USGA U.S. Open Championship Director Reg Jones speaks at a news conference previewing the 2014 back-to-back U.S. Opens in Pinehurst. USGA Executive Director Mike Davis (center) and Pinehurst President Don Padgett II (right) look on.
“Pinehurst has become the benchmark for our championships.”
“It’s not because it makes things easier for our team inside and outside the ropes. This was not a decision that was financially motivated.”
The two-time U.S. Open champion knows a little something about Open venues as well.
So when Strange got his first look at the Pinehurst No. 2 restoration during the recent Liberty Mutual Invitational, the man who won two North and South Amateur titles while starring at Wake Forest in the mid-1970s could easily envision how the course and the championship would mesh together.
Few, in fact, could do it better.
And Curtis Strange liked what he saw.
“When I first see this, it takes me back to the 70s to my old North and South days, because it’s very similar to the way it used to be,” Strange said.
Strange is also a fan of one of the most significant changes to the USGA’s U.S. Open preparation of No. 2 – the switching of the fourth hole to a long par-4 and the fifth to a daunting par-5, complete with new back tee boxes.
“You know, the back tee, it looks pretty doggone good. I like it. I really do,” Strange said.