PINEHURST, N.C. – Ten names to know in connection with the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open:
Dan Burton – USGA Vice-President and chair of its Championship Committee lives in Lititz and is a member at L.C.C. and Bent Creek (oh, and Pine Valley).
A potential future USGA president, Burton is among the more powerful people in golf, having been involved, for example, in last year’s decision to ban anchored putters starting in 2016.
Barry Deach – The Open’s Championship Director. Deach is not a U.S.G.A guy. He’s the guy organizations like the U.S.G.A. hire to run big events, with three U.S. Opens, five PGAs and two Ryder Cups on his resume.
Has already spent enough time in Lancaster to “have grown to appreciate it in a big way,’’ he said last week.
Jerry Hostetter – The General Chairman of the 2015 Open and, informally, its father. Hostetter was president of Lancaster Country Club when the deal was made, and was working to make it happen for years before that.
A Lancaster native and Lancaster Mennonite grad, Hostetter is president of Prestige Investment Group.
Michelle Wie – You probably recognize this one. Once believed to be the female Tiger Woods, Wie was playing in national amateur events, against men, while she was in junior high school.
Then she wobbled, struggled, recoiled against fame for a long while. The mid-to-late 2000s were a miasma of injuries, withdrawls and rules controversies.
Now she’s 24, a Stanford grad, an adult, and seemingly out the other side of a unique adolescence. Wie won her third LPGA title in April and is ranked 11th in the world. At least in America, she remains the game’s biggest female star.
William Flynn – Golf-course architect and Renaissance man who once owned a piece of the Philadelphia Eagles, Flynn designed three courses – Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, Cherry Hills in Denver, and The Country Club near Boston – that have hosted men’s U.S. Opens. He also, many contend, had a role in the design of Merion, last year’s men’s Open venue.
His first major project was on New Holland Ave. Flynn (1890-1944) originally routed L.C.C. in 1919. He tweaked it many times of the following 25 years, and the club did a renovation to the course, intending to honor Flynn’s original vision, in 2007.
Stacy Lewis – The 29 year-old Texan has overcome scoliosis and spinal fusion surgery to become the number one-ranked female golfer in the world.
Lewis won four times on the L.P.G.A. Tour in 2012 and became the tour’s first American player of the year since Beth Daniel in 1994.
Lewis won the 2013 Women’s British Open at St. Andrews, and rose to the top of the world rankings for a month. She regained the top spot with a win in the LPGA ShopRite Classic in New Jersey two weeks ago.
She has never finished higher than third in a U.S. Women’s Open.
Lexi Thompson – The apparent next big thing in women’s golf, or at least American women’s golf. Thompson played in her first U.S. Open, in 2007, at age 12. She turned pro at 15, won on the LPGA tour and Ladies European Tour at 16, and won the Kraft Nabisco, a major for the women, in April, at 19.
Thompson is a big (6-0), athletic, long-hitting kid with a chance to dominate. She is currently sixth in the world. By the time she gets to Lancaster …
Todd Bidelspacher – One of the many elements that fell into place leading to L.C.C. landing the Women’s Open was the hiring of Bidelspacher as superintendent. The dude can by all accounts manicure a firm, fast, championship layout. His work, in conjunction with the U.S.G.A., will have a lot to do with the version of L.C.C. faced by the women next July.
Rory Connaughton – A member of the executive committee, and L.C.C. member, a golf fanatic and a Lancaster attorney (Brubaker, Connaughton, Goss & Lucarelli), Connaughton is likely the most media savvy member of the executive committee. He designed the tournament logo that will appear on hats, shirts, etc.
The Honorary Chairman – Identity unknown, at least publicly, until revealed at a downtown public event July 5. The PR folks assure us he or she has Lancaster ties, and that we will be blown away. Stay tuned.