LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan appeared on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive on Tuesday – less than a week after Michelle Wie sat in the same spot and gushed about the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, to be played the week immediately following the men’s U.S. Open on Pinehurst No. 2 in June.
It is a grand experiment that has many - LPGA players included – wondering how the USGA is going to make it all work.
But Whan is on board. Here are his comments about the Open at Pinehurst.*
*Once Golf Channel posts video of Whan’s Pinehurst comments, we’ll post it here.
— Pinehurst Resort (@PinehurstResort) January 14, 2014
More from Whan:
“I’m a fan of change. With change provides opportunity. I think a lot of people in the world are going to watch the U.S. Women’s Open who may not have watched simply because of this back-to-back situation.”
“I think a lot of people in the world are going to watch the U.S. Women’s Open who may not have watched simply because of this back-to-back situation.” -Mike Whan
Many players are concerned about how Pinehurst No. 2 will be set up the week following the men’s national championship. Whan said he understands those concerns, but has faith in the USGA and Executive Director Mike Davis:
“Course setup is going to be tough, and to be perfectly honest with you, I’m glad it’s the USGA’s problem and not the LPGA’s problem because it’s not going to be easy.”
Whan and Davis, though, have been in regular communication:
“Some of the anxieties are just from not knowing – and shame on us, we just haven’t told all the things, and we don’t know all the things the USGA has in place.
“Mike Davis is not only a great listener, but a great thinker as it relates to course setup. He said, ‘I’ll come to your player meeting (in March). Let’s have an open forum, and we’ll talk about what we’re going to do.'”
More about potential course setup:
“I applaud the USGA for trying different. I’m a fan of different.” -Mike Whan
“Course setup is definitely going to be a challenge, and I think our players are right and legit to have those concerns. We want to make sure we air those concerns, have a dialogue. It may not be perfect, but I applaud the USGA for trying different. I’m a fan of different. And I think it’s going to create some awareness levels we’ve never seen.”
Whan sees the back-to-back Opens as a tremendous opportunity to bring fans to the women’s game. Clearly, several plans are in the works:
“Imagine if some of our top players are in the booth on Saturday and Sunday on NBC, when you know, 20 million people are watching that event and talking about the next week.” -Mike Whan
“The USGA’s also incredibly open to how do we leverage the first week, to create more opportunity, exposure and awareness for the second week. Imagine if some of our top players are in the booth on Saturday and Sunday on NBC, when you know, 20 million people are watching that event and talking about the next week. We, normally, on the women’s tour, don’t get that opportunity. We’re going to take advantage of that opportunity.”