Tiger Woods

Stop at Pebble Beach major breakthrough for U.S. Women’s Open

Paula Creamer was 18 when she first met Arnold Palmer on her way to the 17th tee at Pebble Beach Golf Links. She was playing a practice round for the 2004 First Tee Open, where Ben Crenshaw, Jerry Pate and Bruce Lietzke gave her advice on how to play the iconic course. She couldn’t imagine then that nearly 20 years would pass before she’d get the opportunity to compete there again in a major championship.

When the USGA announced Pebble Beach will host its first U.S. Women’s Open in 2023, Monterey, Calif., native Mina Harigae spoke for many players when she let out a yell. This marks a breakthrough in the women’s game, much like when the 2007 Women’s British Open visited the Old Course at St. Andrews. Years ago, the women were penciled in to play a U.S. Open at Pebble in 2014, but it never happened.

Creamer, now 31, grew up in the Bay Area and tells The Forecaddie she has every intention of teeing it up in the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach, calling it “long overdue.”

Michelle Wie never has played Pebble Beach. Neither has Stacy Lewis. Jessica Korda makes it a point to watch when the PGA Tour makes its annual trip to the old Crosby Clambake, calling it one of her “bucket list” courses.

“For me personally, I wish it was a few years earlier,” Lewis tells TMOF. “2023 seems pretty far away. But whether I’m playing or not, it is a huge step in the right direction for women’s golf.”

Alena Sharp’s experience at Pebble so far hasn’t extended beyond the view from the 18th green. The women have waited so long for this opportunity that most, like Sharp, were genuinely shocked by the announcement.

Harigae estimates she has played Pebble 30 times. For four years she competed in the First Tee Open with Tom Kite, who captured the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble. The historic venue will host three majors in the next decade (the 2019 and 2027 U.S. Opens) as well as next summer’s U.S. Amateur.

Lorena Ochoa won the first Women’s British Open staged on St. Andrews’ Old Course; Lewis won the second in 2013. Who will be the first female major winner at Pebble, joining the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods?

It could be a name we don’t yet know. But we won’t soon forget it.

(Note: This story appears in the November 2017 issue of Golfweek.)

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