UNIVERSITY PLACE — It was certainly a great week in the U.S. Women’s Amateur for 17-year-old Saki Baba from Japan, who defeated Canada’s Monet Chun 11 and 9 Sunday in the 36-hole championship match to end a busy week of golf.
But the week was also a showcase for Chambers Bay, the host course.
Players — even those who didn’t play well — had great things to say about the University Place course, and perhaps more important, the USGA was very happy with the course as well.
Happy enough that the U.S. Open, which was played at Chambers Bay in 2015, could return someday? Or maybe it could host a U.S. Women’s Open down the road?
There are two open years for U.S. Opens between now and 2036: 2028 and 2031. The first open year for a U.S. Women’s Open is 2032.
“We wouldn’t rule anything out in the future,” said Mark Hill, managing director of championships for the USGA. “We stay in regular dialogue with leaders of Pierce County … in certainly preparing for a championship and what might be possible for the future.”
Hill said the performance of the course — and the greens that were redone after the U.S. Open in 2015 — this week and last year in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship has “helped solidify an already-great relationship, absolutely.”
The USGA stunned the golf world in 2008 with the news that it would be playing the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, which had opened just the year before.
The 2010 U.S. Amateur was a test run for the 2015 U.S. Open, and it wasn’t smooth. The course was so dry and fast in the stroke-play rounds that some holes were unfair.
The 2015 U.S. Open finished with Jordan Spieth’s dramatic win over Dustin Johnson, but the event is also known for the criticism the course took after an unseasonably dry June burned the fine fescue and led to uneven greens.
In 2018, the fine fescue greens were replaced with poa annua greens. The new greens have now performed well in two USGA championships the past two years.
The course itself certainly looked a lot different and greener in 15 hours of live coverage on Golf Channel this past week than it did in 2015 at the U.S. Open, when brown was the predominant color.
“Certainly, the views and the scenery are great, but I think the golf course, too,” Hill said. “We were excited to bring this championship here — it created a lot of excitement among our players when we made that announcement. It has been a great championship and Chambers Bay has been great.”
Baba rolls in final
Saki Baba dominated in her semifinal victory Saturday over fellow 17-year-old Bailey Shoemaker in an 18-hole match, winning 7 and 6.
She was even more impressive Sunday in her 11-and-9 victory.
Baba became the second player from Japan to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur, in its 122nd year, joining Michiko Hattori, who won in 1985.
Baba took a 7-up lead after 18 holes, and there was a break of a few hours before the final resumed. Chun, who won the Canadian Women’s Amateur three weeks ago, won the 20th and 21st hole to cut her deficit to five behind, but Baba won the next six holes to close out the match.
It was the most lopsided final since 1961 when Anne Quast from Everett won 14 and 13 at Tacoma Country Club.
Baba, who is No. 45 in the World Amateur Rankings, finished tied for 49th in the U.S. Women’s Open in June.