Former Spartan Becky Morgan earns spot at U.S. Women's Open
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - UNC Greensboro alumna Becky Morgan overcame an overnight weather delay and a sudden-death tiebreaker to earn a spot in the 2010 U.S. Women's Open Championship last week.
Playing in a sectional qualifier at Fox Chapel GC in Pittsburgh, Pa., Morgan shot 7-over 149 in her 36 holes and then made par on the first sudden-death hole to earn a spot in the field. Morgan, a nine-year veteran of the LPGA Tour, and Jennifer Kirby, who was coming off a standout season at University of Alabama, edged Canadian Rebecca Lee-Bentham at the par-3, 17th hole.
This year's Open, the 65th edition, will be played July 8-11 at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. ESPN2 will provide live coverage of the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday, July 8 and 9, with NBC taking over the coverage for the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday, July 10 and 11.
The Open field will consist of 156 players for the first two rounds, being cut to 60 plus ties and anyone within 10 shots of the lead. Prior to the qualifying events, 68 golfers were fully exempt with six more spots reserved for players who win an LPGA event prior to the start of the Open. The remaining 82 positions are filled via the 20 sectional qualifying slots, which concluded late last week.
Entries are open to professional and amateur female golfers. Amateurs must have an up-to-date United States Golf Association (USGA) Handicap Index not exceeding 4.4 under the USGA Handicap System.
Morgan became the second former Spartan to earn a spot in this year's Open. Jenny Gleason qualified on May 27 at a sectional in Osprey, Fla. Gleason will be making her second U.S. Women's Open appearance, having played in the 2004 event and missing the cut. Morgan will be playing in her seventh Open (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009), having made the cut five times with a best finish of 28th place coming in 2006.
Morgan struggled in the opening round of the sectional last Wednesday with a 77, but came back strong to shoot a 72 in the weather-delayed second round to forge the three-way playoff. Only 18 players finished the sectional after 20 withdrew during the overnight weather delay. The sectional at Fox Chapel was set up at 6,550 yards, which is longer than the Open will be next month at Oakmont.
Morgan, a native of Wales who now makes her home in Ross-on-Wye, England, plays on both the LPGA and the Ladies European (LET) Tours. She has played in three events on the LET and five on the LGPA Tour this season, where she has spent most of her professional career. Morgan has earned more than $2 million since joining the LPGA Tour in 2001.
At UNCG, Morgan was a second-team All-American and a four-time All-Big South honoree. A member of the UNCG Athletics Hall of Fame, Morgan finished 10th at the 1997 NCAA Championship and won 10 individual medalist honors in her collegiate career.
The USGA conducts 13 national championships annually, including the U.S. Women's Open, U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women's Amateur. The U.S. Women's Open was added to the USGA's roster of championships in 1953, 58 years after the first U.S. Women's Amateur, and is the oldest championship open to female golfers of both professional and amateur status.
In its 64-year history, the U.S. Women's Open has reigned as the world's greatest women's championship, attracting a steadily increasing number of entries. Only 37 contestants played in 1953, but the field increased to 205 players in 1976 when sectional qualifying was introduced. In 2001, a record 980 contestants entered and in 2005, that record was surpassed with 1,158 entries. Local qualifying was introduced in 2002.
More than 125,000 spectators attend the event annually. Eun-Hee Ji won the event last year at Bethlehem, Pa.'s Saucon Valley Country Club.
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