On Friday, the United States Golf Association announced the return of back-to-back U.S. Opens to Pinehurst in 2029. The men’s tournament was already scheduled as part of the USGA’s naming of Pinehurst No. 2 as the first Anchor Site of the U.S. Open. No. 2 will play host to the U.S. Open in 2024, 2029, 2035, 2041 and 2047.
And now the U.S. Women’s Open will return to No. 2 in 2029.
“We are honored to host our second U.S. Women’s Open in 2029 and humbled by the USGA’s decision to have Pinehurst host the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open over back-to-back weeks again,” says Bob Dedman Jr., Pinehurst Resort’s Chief Executive Officer. “Having the world’s best male and female players here for two consecutive weeks was a historic and unforgettable experience in 2014. To know we will again see them interact and compete on the same course is awe-inspiring. We are grateful to the USGA for the opportunity to serve as the site for one of the most unique experiences in all of golf.”
It will mark only the second time the USGA’s two flagship championships have been held at the same venue, back-to-back, as Pinehurst Resort was the first in the storied history of the tournament to do so in 2014. The convergence of two professional golf tours that typically exist in separate worlds created some unforgettable moments eight years ago. To wit:
~An hour before the last tee time of the final round of the Men’s U.S. Open, co-runner-up Rickie Fowler was on the practice putting green with six other players — all of them LPGA Tour players getting their first feel for Pinehurst’s famous putting surfaces. Golf writer Stephanie Wei Tweeted, “Another cool scene: Cristie Kerr helping Seung Yul Noh out with his putting stroke. #usopens #onlyatpinehurst.”
~There was the priceless scene of a throng of LPGA players following Martin Kaymer and Fowler in the final pairing that Sunday, reacting to every shot like a group of star-struck fans. LPGA Tour major champion Yani Tseng told Golf Channel reporter Randall Mell, “I just walked by Adam Scott (on the practice range). I just about passed out.”
~Earlier that day Tseng, checking in at The Carolina Hotel, ran into Rory McIlroy in the lobby as he headed to the course. “Rory came up to me and gave me a big hug,” Tseng said. “I hadn’t seen him in four years.” Said McIlroy: “It’s cool to run into the girls,” he said. “I would like to see it happen more often. I’m going to tune in and watch next week just to see how they get on around here and see how they fare.”
~At the time just 17 years old, Lydia Ko spent her Sunday following her favorite player — Phil Mickelson. “It was really exciting to be so close to these players,” said Ko, who had never attended a PGA Tour event at that time. “I’m used to seeing them on TV. The world’s best are here right now. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Between the ropes, the comparative statistics from the unprecedented back-to-back tournaments in 2014 validated both Donald Ross’s ultimate vision and the restoration work by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in challenging all of the world’s best players.
The men played No. 2 from a base yardage of 7,390 and the women from 6,253. The stroke average for the men was 73.08 and 74.61 for the women (one can thank Kaymer’s 9-under 271 for some of that difference), but in the fourth rounds for both the men and women, the difference in scoring average was just one-tenth of a stroke. The men made 22 eagles, the women 25. The number of birdies were almost identical, with the women making 931 and the men 959.
That No. 2 proved to be a worthy test surprised no one. But it’s the moments that come from the most unique fortnight in golf that will endure, and will have only happened at Pinehurst. And co-hosting the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in 2029 will be serendipitous, and emotional, on many levels.
For one, it will mark the 30-year anniversary of Payne Stewart’s epic victory in the 1999 U.S. Open and the indelible leaning fist pump on the 18th green immortalized by the statue between it and the clubhouse. And it will also be 15 years since Michelle Wie West’s win in the 2014 championship, a two-shot victory over Stacy Lewis for her first major championship victory.
“There will certainly be a few tears shed over those two weeks, but the feeling of joy as the best players in the world converge at the Cradle of American Golf on one of the world’s great golf courses will be overwhelming,” says Pinehurst President Tom Pashley. “No one wants to wish away time, but to say we can’t wait for 2029 would be a historic understatement.”
Photo by John Patota/Sandhills Sentinel.