Alberto soaks Shoal Creek ahead of U.S. Women's Open

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 12: Rain puddles gather on the 18th green as play is suspended further due to heavy rain making the course unplayable during the first round of The Evian Championship at the Evian Resort Golf Club on September 12, 2013 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) Richard Martin-Roberts/Getty Images

Alberto soaks Shoal Creek ahead of U.S. Women's Open

Golf

Alberto soaks Shoal Creek ahead of U.S. Women's Open

The LPGA could use a break from Mother Nature. Unfortunately, bad weather has followed the world’s best to Birmingham, Ala., where Subtropical Depression Alberto is pummeling the area with steady rainfall.

This week, however, it’s the USGA’s headache, as officials were forced to close Shoal Creek on Tuesday, cancelling practice rounds at the 73rd U.S. Women’s Open.

“This is probably the wettest conditions I have ever seen in a U.S. Women’s Open,” said two-time U.S. Women’s Open champ Inbee Park.

Shoal Creek already soggy

Shoal Creek was soggy coming into this week. Lexi Thompson played 18 holes on Monday and the first five or six were in the rain. While the USGA has never used lift, clean and place at a Women’s Open, Thompson wouldn’t be surprised if that changes this week.

“Honestly, I would think that they would have to play the ball up,” said Thompson. “I played it yesterday and it was pretty wet in some spots and some of the fairways are a little bare in some spots. So, I think it will be a little unfair if they don’t, but, you never know. I mean if they don’t, everybody has to play it down and it is what it is but it’s their choice.”

Park said she’d be surprised if lift, clean and place was put into play. The LPGA Hall of Famer was pleasantly surprised on Monday by how well the greens were holding up. One of the best putters in the world, Park was immediately smitten with them.

Even though she’ll be hitting plenty of hybrids and fairway metals into the greens, the World No. 1 still likes her chances.

“It doesn’t matter how long of a distance you putt from,” she said, “it matters who holes the ball, the first in the hole.”

And few do that better than Park, who recently won on the Korean LPGA for the first time and was pleased to have an unscheduled day of rest in Birmingham.

Thompson said she hit only two or three wedges into greens on Monday. Otherwise it was all mid-irons, with a few long-irons into the par 3s.

“You have to keep it in the fairway because the rough isn’t super thick,” she said, “but with Bermuda it goes straight to the bottom of it.”

Lydia Ko just started a new Korean book titled “The Things You Can See When You Stop and Look Back.” She was also pleased to have a day to “relax and chill out.”

Ko hasn’t competed on the LPGA since May 6 in Dallas, taking some personal time to celebrate older sister Sura’s wedding on Jeju Island in South Korea.

7th U.S. Open for Ko

The former No. 1 ended her victory drought last month in San Francisco and finished eighth in Texas. This marks the seventh Women’s Open for the 21-year-old Ko. She actually came to Birmingham for a sneak peek prior to this week and got in 18 holes on Monday.

“I think it’s really good golf course with variety of length of holes, and I think the greens are really the trickiest part,” said Ko. “Where some pin positions are it’s going to be really tricky to attack them. So coming up with par at those holes is a great score.”

USGA officials will speak to the upcoming forecast and conditions of the course in a Tuesday afternoon press conference. There’s an 80 percent chance of rain on Wednesday and thunderstorms are likely as the week progresses, with temperatures reaching into the 90s.

“I would hope they probably play it up,” said Thompson, “because I don’t want anybody in the divots I’m about to take in the fairways.”

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