New York Daily News

Open asks: Who’s got the ’Nack


WHEN PAULA CREAMER got her first look at Sebonack Golf Club, it reminded her of another course and it wasn’t neighborin­g Shinnecock Hills or the National Golf Links.

“Probably Oakmont,” she said, which means that Creamer might be seeing another U.S. Women’s Open trophy i n her near future.

Creamer won the 2010 Open at the fabled course outside Pittsburgh, which has the same sort of feel even if it’s not a links course.

“The moment I stepped foot out at Oakmont, I loved it. I thought it was by far one of my favorite golf courses that I’ve ever played, and this kind of just matches that,” Creamer noted. “The whole rolling effect, the natural (look). There are not a lot of trees, but you’ve still got to hit it in the right parts of the fairway. You’ve got to be a grinder out here. You’re going to get good breaks and you’re going to get bad breaks. That’s a lot like Oakmont.”

Indeed, Sebonack is not like many other U.S. Women’s Open courses, just as Merion was not a typical U.S. Open course for the men.

Sebonack is by no means strangling, although really wild drives will find thick rough. Instead, co-designers Tom Doak and Jack Nicklaus protect the course with unique, undulating greens that challenge players to hit the correct area or risk three-putting. That’s kind of like Augusta National except that at Sebonack, players don’t have to bring shots in high. They can use the contours of the ground to play creatively.

“There is more than one way to get the ball to the hole,” said Stacy Lewis, the No. 2 player in the world behind this week’s favorite, Inbee Park. “It feels like the last few U.S. Opens. It’s all been how straight you can drive the ball and that is kind of who has won the tournament. So I like this year that you don’t have to drive it perfect off the tees, but you’ve got to play smart into the greens. You can take it off of ridges, you can go multiple ways to get the ball close, and I like that. I think it brings in another aspect of the game that the U.S. Opens haven’t tested in the past few years.”

“This is a course that really grows on you,” said Suzann Pettersen, another one of the favorites. “I mean, first time I saw this, I was almost overwhelme­d how tricky it was. It was a lot to take in the first time around. But the more you play it, the more you fall in love with it, and I’m looking forward to a test.”

Many players are calling it a “second-shot” golf course.

“The tee shot is the easiest part on this golf course, actually,” said Park, who is trying to win her third straight major of the year. “The second shot is quite tough with the slopey greens. You just don’t know where the ball is going to roll out to. You’ve really got to know the greens very well and really place the second shots in the right positions.”

“People are talking about these greens being very big. I actually find them very small,” Pettersen said. “Because if you’re looking at the sections you’re hitting it into and where you really want to be, they’re fairly small and you’ve got to be really precise.”

No one knows the course better than 2007 Open champ Cristie Kerr, a personal friend of owner Michael Pascucci.

“There are a lot of holes. If you miss it in the wrong spot, you’re an automatic bogey,” she said. “Yeah, obviously, if you hit it on every fairway, it’s a second-shot course. But you have to play every shot really well here. It’s going to be a great test.”

 ?? Getty ?? Paula Creamer loves Sebonack, comparing it favorably to Oakmont, where she won the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.
Getty Paula Creamer loves Sebonack, comparing it favorably to Oakmont, where she won the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.

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