2014 U.S. Opens already creating a buzz

The U.S. Open doubleheader, the first of its kind, at Pinehurst No. 2 is more than a year away but is picking up momentum. USGA officials who handle the tournaments were at a meet-and-greet last week to talk about June 2014, when the men’s and women’s opens will be played in consecutive weeks on the same course. Reg Jones, the director of U.S. Open championships for the USGA, noted that big-time golf isn’t new to the Pinehurst area. “Next year will mark the seventh and eighth USGA championships to be conducted on Pinehurst No. 2, and Pinehurst No. 2 will become the only venue to have hosted all three of our Open championships and our men’s and women’s amateur championships,” Jones said.

Over the past 20 years, the USGA has staged 10 championships in the Pinehurst area, including three U.S. Women’s Opens at Pine Needles. There was a time when few envisioned a U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, one of the most historic courses in the country, but after the success of 1999, the USGA keeps returning. Part of the doubleheader’s appeal is that the women will be playing No. 2 for the first time. The U.S. Open, be it men’s or women’s, is usually about the rough, but the renovated No. 2 has none. In 2010, the course had a $2.5 million renovation by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore and the rough was stripped away and replaced by hardpan, pine straw and sand, to make the course more like the original design. Jones said: “For us, 2014 is really about the opportunity to make history, and what better place to make history than here at Pinehurst?”