NORMAN — Only Mother Nature knows how tough the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club will play this week. It could be hot and windy, or it might be muggy and calm.
No matter what the elements bring, the United States Golf Association will crown its first amateur champion when the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links concludes Saturday.
The event begins today with the 156-player field playing the first of two rounds of stroke play. The top 64 advance to match play. A total of six match-play rounds will be conducted over the next four days to determine the champion. The final match will be contested over 36 holes on Saturday.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links (WAPL) began in 1977 as a national championship for women who play the nation’s public courses. The WAPL is open to female amateur golfers who, since Jan. 1, 2013, have been bona fide public course players and have not held privileges at any course that does not extend playing privileges to the general public.
The field, which includes players from 32 states and eight different countries, will have a strong local flavor. Three members of the OU women’s golf team — Chirapat Jao-Javanil, Taylor Schmidt and Anne-Catherine Tanguay — qualified for the event.
Jao-Javanil, OU’s only two-time first-team All-American and who is No. 12 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, said the fact the WAPL is being held in Norman should make for an enjoyable week.
“I’m happy to be playing in this tournament, especially with it being at home,” said Jao-Javanil, who made it to the quarterfinals of last year’s WAPL in New Jersey. “I get to sleep in my own bed, I know the course and I know a lot of people who are going to be out here. So I’m just looking forward to having fun.”
Jao-Javanil is one of five players ranked in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking’s Top 25 in the field, joining No. 8 Annie Park, No. 10 Kyung Kim, No. 23 Grace Na and No. 24 Kelly Shon.
But the home-course advantage will only be enjoyed by a few.
“I think it’s going to make a huge difference,” said Tanguay, a 2013 third-team All-American and currently No. 65 in the amateur rankings. “I’ve been here for quite a bit, and knowing the conditions is going to be a big advantage. There’s thick rough and the greens are pretty fast. I think just knowing how the course plays is a huge advantage.”
The action begins at 7:30 a.m. today. The event is free and open to the public.
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