By Gavin Menu
Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest golfer ever, and Tom Doak, a world renowned golf course designer, carved a jewel out of the Peconic Bay in 2005 and named it Sebonack. The greatness of the course—at just eight years young—will be on full display as it hosts its first ever major tournament with this week’s 68th United States Women’s Open Championship, which begins today, June 24.
An estimated 130,000 fans are expected to flock to the East End this week to attend the event in Southampton. A field of 156 of the world’s best professional and amateur female golfers will compete and a champion will be crowned Sunday evening, June 30.
The defending champion is Na Yeon Choi, a 25 year-old from South Korea who now lives in Florida. But the favorite has to be Inbee Park, another South Korean, who at 24 years old is currently the top ranked player in the world and first on the LPGA Tour money list.
American favorites such as Cristie Kerr, who has won two major championships and 16 LPGA tournaments, Karrie Webb, with 39 career wins on tour, Paula Creamer, who won the Open in 2010, and Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked American currently on tour, will also be competing at Sebonack this week.
A local favorite is Annie Park, an 18-year-old amateur who graduated from MacArthur High School, where she became the first female to win the Nassau County Boys High School Golf Championship in 2012.
Like any golf tournament, there is added excitement for spectators who are interested in the golf course as much as they are in the players trying to tame it. Sebonack is perched on 300 acres along Great Peconic Bay and Cold Spring Pond and features pristine rolling fairways, expansive bunkers and dunes and hilly greens that should present huge challenges for the golfers this week. Many have said that Sebonack presents some of the most spectacular waterfront holes in all of golf.
Sebonack sits in the shadows of two of the most classic golf course in America in Shinnecock Hills and the National Golf Links of America. Shinnecock, which was founded in 1891, hosted the U.S. Men’s Open in 1986, 1995 and 2004 and is scheduled to host the 2018 tournament as well. National will host the amateur Walker Cup this September, pitting the best amateurs from the U.S. against those from England and Ireland.
This week’s major championship event will be televised throughout the week on ESPN and NBC. The first and second rounds will be held Thursday and Friday, with gates opening at 6:30 a.m. The third and final rounds will occur over the weekend, with gates open at 7 a.m. Throughout the week, children under 17 will receive free admission when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased at www.2013uswomensopen.com.