BEDMINSTER, New Jersey (Reuters) - The enormous putting surfaces could pose an unusual challenge at the U.S. Women’s Open starting at Trump National on Thursday.
Three-putts will present an acute danger on the large, fast and sloping greens for the 156-player field gathered for the year’s third major.
“The greens will be the biggest part of this golf course,” former world number one Lydia Ko said on Tuesday.
”The greens are really big here ... just because you’re on the green doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be an easy two-putt or a birdie.
“So, I think getting the speed right, because you might be a long distance away, I think that’s going to be super important.”
The 6,732-yard rolling layout is framed by graduated rough with the second cut grown to four inches, but players are somewhat accustomed to that in majors and generous fairways should help them stay out of the long grass most of the time.
The greens, however, pose a different test.
“More than half of them stretch over 40 yards long,” championship director Shannon Rouillard, adding that they would likely be presented at a lightning-fast speed.
Two-time champion Park In-bee, who won the crown in 2008 and 2013, said the greens could determine the winner.
“You have to avoid three-putts because you’ll be putting from far away from the holes here,” the South Korean former world number one said. “Some sloping greens and downhill putts can be very, very quick here.”
Current world number one Ryu So-yeon, acknowledged as one of the best ball-strikers in the game, said she could be lifted by the confidence gained with the putter over the last year while working with former British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch.
“When I first met Ian Baker-Finch I told him, ‘I‘m the worst putter in the world, I‘m putting really bad, I really need your help.'”
“He was like, ‘you know what So-yeon, your stroke is perfect. You don’t need to think you are the worst putter in the world. Your putting stroke is awesome. You just need to trust yourself and enjoy your moment on the greens.’”
Ryu said she had been her own worst enemy.
“If I look back, I was definitely a bit afraid of getting on the green because even after I hit a really great shot, (for a) four-foot birdie putt or six-foot birdie putt, what if I‘m going to miss it?” she said.
“The biggest difference is I‘m working with Baker-Finch and right now, I think just my attitude is much more positive. Right now I‘m more focused how I‘m going to make it.”
Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Andrew Both