THE UNITED STATES GOLF ASSOCIATION has raised its batting average for 2015 to .500.
The USGA struck out with the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, which suffered from bumpy greens and few spectator viewpoints. Yes, Puget Sound was picturesque, the British Open look was weirdly interesting and the passing trains added ambience, but not even Jordan Spieth's dramatic win could cover up the flaws.
Last week's U.S. Women's Open at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club, however, was a home run. It had everything Chambers Bay lacked—big, undulating greens as smooth as pool tables; majestic shade trees; a scenic water hazard that came into play (the meandering Conestoga River); and fans who could see the action.
Nice comeback, USGA.
July 20, 2015
No one handled Lancaster's bedeviling greens better than In Gee Chun, a 20-year-old South Korean who won the 70th U.S. Women's Open on her first try. Chun holed four clutch birdie putts on the closing nine, including at 15, 16 and 17, and secured the victory when 36- and 54-hole leader Amy Yang missed a par putt at the 72nd that would have forced a three-hole playoff.
Chun couldn't seem to stop smiling all weekend and didn't seem bothered by Lancaster's sweeping greens, designed by William Flynn in 1920. The many uphill and downhill shots added a subtle complexity that reminded some of Denver's Cherry Hills—also a Flynn design. "Spectacular," said 2007 U.S. Open champ Cristie Kerr. "Awesome," raved Paula Creamer, who won the '10 Open at Oakmont.
Of course, it wouldn't be a U.S. Open without complaints. Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked American in the world, joked that some of the severe Saturday pin positions "would be perfect with windmills." One more tip of the cap, Mr. Flynn, if you please.
Chella Choi of South Korea three-putted the final green on Saturday for 64, missing a chance to post an Open-record 62.
It was Chun, a seven-time winner on the LPGA of Korea tour, who showed how to close. One minute she was tied for the lead with Yang and Lewis. Moments later Chun made the first of three straight birdies, while Yang bogeyed and Lewis double-bogeyed. Snap, Chun was in charge. She finished with a 66, even after a bogey at the last.
"I tried to really have fun every moment," Chun said through an interpreter at the awards ceremony. "The golf course at Lancaster is world-class. I really enjoyed it."
Two U.S. Opens, two exciting finishes and ... one great venue. Not at all bad, USGA.