The 75th U.S. Women’s Open, delayed nearly six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gets underway this week at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.
For the first time in U.S. Women’s Open history, the championship will be played on two courses: Cypress Creek (all four rounds) and Jackrabbit (first and second rounds).
Jeongeun Lee6 seeks to defend her title, along with eight other past U.S. Women’s Open champions – In Gee Chun (2015), Eun-Hee Ji (2009), Ariya Jutanugarn (2018), Cristie Kerr (2007), Brittany Lang (2016), Inbee Park (2008, 2013), Sung Hyun Park (2017) and So Yeon Ryu (2011).
“I’m a bit of a nervous, but I’m just trying not to think about it too much,” said Lee6, who is attempting to become the first back-to-back winner U.S. Women’s Open winner since Karrie Webb in 2000 and 2001.
“I just want to feel kind of loose when I play on the course, so I don’t feel super tense and then feel nervous all the time.”
Lang feeling pressure, but still at ‘home on the range’
One of seven Texans in the field, 2016 U.S. Women’s Open champion Brittany Lang, a Duke alumna, certainly feels the pressure to represent her home state.
“I try to lower my expectations because you get pretty excited. You have a lot of family and you want to win, you want to play so well and do well,” said Lang, whose picture is front and center on this week’s promotional advertising, including a giant billboard on the main drag outside Champions Golf Club.
“I’ve learned to calm down a little bit and lower my expectations. It’s just fun to be in Texas.”
This is an extra special – and tiring – week for the 16-time U.S. Women’s Open veteran, who is competing for the first time as an LPGA Mom.
The USGA even recognized that fact by giving Lang’s 11-month-old daughter Shay a special credential that says “U.S. Women’s Open Future Champion.” Joking that she’s considered an old-timer as a mom, Lang plans to only play nine holes on the Jackrabbit Course, opting to walk the other nine and save her energy for what she knows will be a very “strenuous” week.
“I think younger Brittany had a lot more energy, so she would have played it multiple, multiple times. But older Brittany is a little more tired,” Lang said with a smile.
Including Lang, the field features seven Texans competing in their home state, including Angela Stanford, winner of last week’s Volunteers of America Classic and runner-up at the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport