Pinehurst anticipates changes for North & South

The 13th hole at Pinehurst No. 2

Pinehurst Resort and its famed No. 2 course are facing a logistical traffic jam in the summer of 2014. With the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens being played in consecutive weeks, Pinehurst’s men’s and women’s North & South Amateurs, which typically fall within weeks of the national Opens, would seem to be under assault.

Tournament director Brian Fahey, with a nod to the North & South tradition, has some options.

“I can’t imagine we wouldn’t have them,” Fahey said. “Both are a very important part of our tradition here.”

The tournament dates, especially for the men’s North & South, likely will change.

This year, as has been the case in recent years, the men’s North & South will take place during the first week of July (3-7). The women’s event is slated for mid-July.

In 2014, the men’s and women’s Opens will be played June 12-15 and June 19-22, respectively.

Fahey suggested two possible adjustments for the 2014 amateur events: Later dates and using one or more of the seven other courses at the resort.

“I’m sure we’ll look at possibly different dates (in 2014),” Fahey said. “Maybe push them back a little. We may put more focus on some of our other courses and utilize them for tournament play in the amateur events.”

Change to the men’s North & South, which will be played for the 112th time this summer, already is coming this year via a revised competition format.

The 132-player field will play 18 holes of stroke play for the first three days, on July 3-5, on the Pinehurst No. 8 course. After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the low 60 and ties. After 54 holes, a medalist will be crowned and the top 16 players will advance to match play (each match 18 holes) on the No. 2 course.

The Round of 16 round and quarterfinals will take place on July 6, with the semifinals and final to follow on July 7.

“Match play has been part of the North & South Amateur since the very beginning,” Fahey said. “We look at amateur golf and see what the players do and like. Most of the top amateur events are stroke play, but some, including all the USGA amateur championships, also include match play.

“We didn’t want to eliminate match play, so doing it this way, we feel we are mixing the best of both worlds,” he said.

The new format will fall in line with the long-running Western Amateur, minus one stroke-play round. The Western, considered by many as the most grueling test in golf, has a 72-hole stroke-play qualifying segment to determine the Round of 16 for match play.

“We think our new format will be appealing to the players and are looking forward to continuing to make the North & South one of the top amateur competitions in the world,” Fahey said.

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