The last major championship held on the East End of Long Island was the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, which is remembered for the final round when several greens turned into brown billiard tables that made it nearly impossible to hold a shot. There was an outcry that day from many competitors who blamed the USGA for "losing control" of the course.
The memory of that day was evoked before the first shot is fired Thursday in the 68th U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club. Former Open champion Cristie Kerr sounded the alarm on Tuesday, and USGA officials responded Wednesday with assurances conditions are under close scrutiny.
"The fairways are getting those round brown spots, and the greens are getting a lot firmer," Kerr warned. "With the heat and possibly the wind here, they just have to make sure it doesn't get kind of ridiculous because they could lose control of this golf course fairly quickly.
"I've seen it firm up on like Thursday and Friday, but not on Tuesday morning . . . They're really good at what they do, so they just have to kind of watch it. It is an Open, but it still has to be fair."
The USGA's Jeff Hall said Sebonack superintendent Garret Bodington and USGA agronomist David Oatis are monitoring the speed and firmness of the greens. "I think our water management program is spot on," Hall said. "We're very pleased with where we are."
Hall said winds could range from 10 to 20 miles per hour, gusting to 25. "That is impacting our decision-making with water management, hole locations, tee locations and green speeds," Hall said.