Jacksonville Sports Day

GOLF PREVIEW: U.S. Women’s Open Championship Being Played in Charleston

Photo Courtesy USGA

CHARLESTON, S.C. – This week marks the 74th U.S. Women’s Open Championship and the second in the state of South Carolina.

In addition to prize money, the champion will receive a gold medal, custody of the Harton S. Semple Trophy for the ensuing year and an exemption from qualifying for the next 10 U.S. Women’s Open Championships.   The 2019 purse is $5 million. The 2018 purse was $5 million, and the winner earned $900,000.

The first U.S. Women’s Open, played at Spokane (Wash.) Country Club in 1946 and won by Patty Berg, was the only one conducted at match play. The Women’s Professional Golfers Association (WPGA) conducted the Women’s Open until 1949, when the newly formed Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) took over operation of the championship.

The LPGA ran the Women’s Open for four years, but in 1953 asked the United States Golf Association (USGA) to conduct the championship, which it has done ever since.

The youngest winner of the U.S. Women’s Open is Inbee Park, who won the 2008 championship at age 19 years, 11 months and 17 days. Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who won the 1954 Women’s Open at age 43 years and 7 days, is the oldest winner.

In 1967, Catherine Lacoste, of France, the daughter of hall-of-fame tennis player Rene Lacoste and 1927 British Ladies Amateur champion Simone Thion de la Chaume, became the only amateur to win the U.S. Women’s Open. Seven other amateurs, most recently Hye-Jin Choi in 2017, have had runner-up or corunner-up finishes.

There are some notable amateurs from Florida in the 2019 field.

Sierra Brooks, 20, of Orlando, Fla., a junior at the University of Florida, was runner-up at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur, losing in the final to Hannah O’Sullivan. In her first season as a Gator, she won two of her first three events, becoming the first player in program history to do so. She was a member of the USA Curtis Cup Team in 2016.

This April, Brooks competed in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur and finished T-10. She finished runner-up in the 2019 NCAA Championships this May.

Alexa Pano, 14, of Lake Worth, Fla., the youngest player in this year’s field, is playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open.

She was runner-up to Yealimi Noh in the 2018 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship and a semifinalist in the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. Pano is a three-time Drive, Chip & Putt National Finalist and the only two-time champion (2016, 2017) in the event’s five-year history.

She was a member of the victorious United States team in the 2018 Junior Ryder Cup in France and competed in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur this April as the field’s youngest player.

The Country Club of Charleston was designed by Seth Raynor and opened for play in 1925. Known for its challenging green complexes and sweeping lowcountry vistas, the course features the signature par-3 No. 11, known as the Redan hole, where Sam Snead once famously carded a 13.

The 2019 U.S. Women’s Open will be the second USGA championship conducted at the club, with Emma Talley winning the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, defeating Cindy Feng, 2 and 1, in the final. Beyond its USGA history, the Country Club of Charleston boasts a long legacy of championship play.

The Azalea Invitational, one of the nation’s premier amateur events, as well as the Beth Daniel Junior invitational and the Azalea Senior, are hosted annually at the club. The club has also hosted 27 state championships.

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