2011 U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—The 2011 U.S. Women's Open will go down as one of the longest in the tournament's 66-year history—both in terms of the yardage on The Broadmoor's challenging East Course and the length and number of days to complete the event.
Weather delays became a daily occurrence on the 7,047 yard track, as five days were needed to crown a champion. So Yeon Ryu defeated Hee Kyung Seo in a three-hole playoff to earn the honor.
Here are the nine lessons we learned at the 2011 U.S. Women's Open championship.
After the Wegman's LPGA Championship a couple weeks ago, Suzann Pettersen said that while she loved Locust Hill Country Club, she didn't think it was a major championship course.
Yani Tseng's 19 under par total more than confirmed Pettersen's critique. In fact, there were 29 players under par at this tournament.
But the Broadmoor East Course provided a true championship quality track for this year's U.S. Women's Open. At 7,047 yards, it was the longest course in Women's Open history. And only three golfers were under par when the final numbers were in.
The East Course is one of the most historic, tradition-steeped links in America. It still remains one of the premier golf courses in the world, dating back to its beginnings in 1918. Plus, The Broadmoor has hosted world-renowned championships—among those, this U.S. Women's Open (twice) as well as the U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women's Amateur and more.
Designed by renowned architect Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Broadmoor's East Course was considered unusual for the time, given its altitude and level of technical difficulty. Ross had designed golf courses for several of the top golf clubs in the country, but declared The Broadmoor course his best work.
After seeing it myself for the first time this week, I can understand why.
You can call The Broadmoor a lot of things. Obviously, it's a golf course that hosts big events, like this 2011 U.S. Women's Open. Between the East and West courses, there are 54 holes of championship golf here.
But it's also an award-winning resort that features a day spa, fitness center, two swimming pools, three outdoor hot tubs, one lap pool, six tennis courts and 24 specialty retail shops. But that's not doing it justice. You need to experience the place to appreciate it.
The Broadmoor has won the AAA Five Diamond Award for 35 straight years. Only three other U.S. properties can say the same. It was also honored with five stars from Forbes—for 51 straight years.
The thing I noticed the most during my stay at The Broadmoor—aside from the incredibly kind staff—was the enormity of the place. And the beauty. When I first drove down Lake Avenue in search of media parking, the majestic, signature Broadmoor Main tower appeared, with the Cheyenne Mountains serving as a backdrop.
I almost missed my turn. It makes you stop and stare.
The Broadmoor has an elegance about it that is larger than life.
Early in the morning, I stepped onto the balcony of my room in the West Complex to be greeted by peace and quiet. It was honestly the most tranquil feeling of calm, with birds singing and the distant sound of lawn mowers readying the golf course for the day's play.
I plan to return when I'm not simultaneously working a major championship—so I can spend some time golfing, of course, and just relaxing in the beauty of this place.
There's something about the U.S. Women's Open and weather. It's an event that just seems to bring out the worst.
Play was halted on a daily basis at the 2011 rendition. And it made for frustration all around—for the players and spectators to the media and volunteers. Everyone was inconvenienced by the daily afternoon storms.
Therefore, part of Thursday's play was pushed back to Friday. And part of Friday's play was moved to Saturday. And you get the idea.
Paula Creamer noted on her Twitter that she played 66 holes in two days—and only six holes on the remaining two days.
"That was the longest week I've ever had, I think, this tournament," said Ai Miyazato in a flash interview. "You know, like I said, I can't beat the weather."
It was a true test of patience and discipline for those competing.
As if a major championship like the U.S. Open wasn't demanding enough, the weather delays and subsequent chaos they caused only added more difficult circumstances to the equation.
Yani Tseng was a favorite to win the 2011 U.S. Women's Open when the week began. And with good reason. The 22-year-old recently became the youngest player in LPGA history to win four majors since the tour began in 1950. Plus, she's the No. 1 player in the world.
Simply put, Yani Tseng is dominating women's golf.
But Tseng struggled through her first two rounds, shooting 73-73 before figuring things out a bit and getting herself back into contention with a third round 71. Her closing 73, however, left her at T15, nine shots back.
"I always wanted to win this tournament," a disappointed but upbeat Tseng said in her post-tournament flash interview. "I'm always very excited to come here. I tried my best. I hit lots of great shots, but I just couldn't putt. The greens were very tricky. And actually, Sunday, I felt I played really well, but I just couldn't shoot a low score."
Still, it's only a matter of time before Tseng wins her first U.S. Women's Open title.
At one point during the second round of the 2011 U.S. Women's Open, both Ai Miyazato and Mika Miyazato were tied for the lead.
They would eventually finish high on the leaderboard—Mika in fifth place and Ai in a tie for sixth. But their shared place in the championship spotlight brought to question whether the two were related.
"No," Ai responded in a post round flash interview. "But she's from Okinawa, too. That's where I'm from. Miyazato is a pretty common name in Okinawa."
The two may not be sisters. Or cousins. But they are friends.
"Yes, I've known her since she was 10 years old," Ai continued. "We've known each other a long time. It's always really fun to play with her. And especially in this tournament. It's really exciting."
Wildlife is everywhere at The Broadmoor. Deer, bear, foxes, squirrels. And that's only what I encountered.
But not just on the golf course.
I was walking down Lake Avenue, the street The Broadmoor is located on, when a deer appeared on the sidewalk. I was taken aback, first by his presence on what appeared to be a typically busy street—especially when a major championship is in town—but also by his tameness. After nibbling around some bushes, he very quietly jumped over a fence, disappearing into a neighboring yard.
Later in the day, a small red fox ran past me in the media parking lot. He looked like he had somewhere to go in a hurry but gave me a quick glance as if to say "Hello" as he passed by.
Interesting. It's all part of the appeal of this place.
The Broadmoor bears get all the pub, but there is apparently quite a variety to go around. Bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes and snakes are also rumored to be local residents.
An impressive outing at one tournament does not make a player great, but Ryann O'Toole made her presence felt at the 2011 U.S. Women's Open.
O'Toole got her name on the leaderboard early with an opening round 69 and eventually finished in ninth place with a four-day total of 287, just three over par.
It was an impressive major championship debut, to say the least.
"This event is what you dream about golf being like," O'Toole said in a post-tournament flash interview. "This is what, when you grow up and want to turn pro, you think of what it's like. It's really cool to experience that."
If O'Toole continues to improve, she likely will experience many more successful major championship efforts.
In the defense of her 2010 U.S. Women's Open championship, Paula Creamer gave it everything she had. But in the end, it wasn't enough.
The LPGA Tour's most popular player struggled with her putting and finished tied for 15th place.
"I hit it great," Creamer said in a post-tournament flash interview. "I definitely didn't put myself in places where I shouldn't be. I just didn't get the speed (of the putts). The whole week, I struggled with the uphill and downhill. That was my problem. I never had as many lip outs as this week. But, that's golf."
And the weather delays, which resulted in some marathon like golf days, didn't help anyone. Creamer acknowledged the difficulty of the circumstances and applauded the play of eventual winner So Yeon Ryu.
"It's hard, especially in an Open playing 32 or 34 holes a day," Creamer said. "It's tough on you. It wears over time. But, you know, she played awesome. I think it's very impressive."
The 2011 U.S. Women's Open became a survival of the fittest tournament.
With the Broadmoor East course measuring longer than any in U.S. Women's Open history, weather delays and the resulting unpredictability of the scheduling put players into a survival of the fittest mode.
So Yeon Ryu emerged as the winner. She birdied the final hole of regulation to tie Hee Kyung Seo for the lead to force a three hole playoff—then birdied two of those three holes to claim the title of 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion.
"I really won a big major, the U.S. Women's Open," she said, almost in disbelief in her post-tournament flash interview. "I win this tournament. I'm so happy, I can't believe it."
After an opening round 74, Ryu's consistency—carding 69 on each of her final three rounds—proved to be the difference among 156 of the world's best female golfers.