It was a kind of anniversary in reverse, a look forward instead of a look back. Exactly two years before the first round of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club, 27 LPGA Tour pros were at the course in Southampton on Monday, and this is what they saw:
Spectacular views and unfathomable greens.
Those are both compliments, by the way.
"They're good, good greens. They're going to be difficult," Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez said during her round. "You're probably going to have to lay the ball up short and not land it at the flag, then you're kind of at the mercy of what the green is going to do."
Stacy Lewis, who became a major champion at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April (and who drove through the night from Rochester), said, "It's awesome out here. It's going to be a great course for us, for the U.S. Open. You have to pick certain spots and if you miss your spot by a little bit, you've got a really tricky putt coming back. It's how U.S. Opens are, you have to think your way around."
Sebonack was benign Monday, with tees up and the very hilly greens running at 12 on the Stimpmeter. Course superintendent Garret Boddington and management wanted it to be friendly for the occasion, the LIFE Event, a pro-am fundraiser for breast cancer research headed by former tour player and current Golf Channel analyst Val Skinner.
Morgan Pressel, the youngest-ever LPGA major champion, who won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco at age 18, said, "Breast cancer does affect so many of us. That's why we're here. We know how important the cause is and what it means to community."
With a tournament of her own, Pressel has raised more than $1 million to fight the disease that claimed her mother when Morgan was 15.
Pressel couldn't help notice Sebonack's wide fairways and shallow rough, a combination that she said, "doesn't necessarily help my cause" because she relies on hitting tee shots right down the middle. But she added, "I'm fairly good with the wedge around the green, and I think that's going to be very important around here . . . It's very tough around the greens, and it's all about the greens here," she said.
Brittany Lang was 2 under and said she would take that in every round of the Open. "It's such a treat to be out here," she said, looking out on Peconic Bay. "The greens are pretty danged fast. If they get them faster, it's going to be like Oakmont."
Trust us, they are going to be faster. But not much else will be dramatically changed on the Jack Nicklaus-Tom Doak layout.
"This is the first time we've had LPGA Tour pro-level players play the course," said Michael Pascucci, the founder and owner of Sebonack. "So what we're doing is trying to get a feel for the course setup, the length from the tees, what pin positions to use. We'll go over this information with the USGA. The USGA told me they're going to play Sebonack the way it's meant to be played: wide fairways, no rough, fast greens."
Wendy Ward, a four-time winner, envisions a winning score above par. "I have a feeling we're not going to get such benign conditions . . . Wow, it's beautiful. There are so many different kinds of holes: along the water, then you go back into the trees. And the greens are tough," Ward said. Projecting two years down the road, she added, "Let the humbling begin."