PINEHURST, N.C. — The sounds at Pinehurst No. 2 were the first indication that the second week of U.S. Open golf would not be exactly the same as the first one.
Players arrived on the first day of practice to hear clanging from workers tearing down half of the grandstands around the 17th and 18th greens. They heard the whoosh of water coming from a hose that watered the greens to keep them softer.
That didn’t make the stage for the U.S. Women’s Open feel any smaller.
“We play good golf courses, but sometimes we don’t play great golf courses,” said Juli Inkster, playing the Women’s Open for the 35th time. “It seems the men play great golf courses week in and week out. I think when we come here, we’re maybe a little more appreciative of playing a great golf course. It’s in fabulous shape. I really didn’t know what to expect, us playing after the men. And it’s turned out great.
“You can’t even tell that the men were here the week before — except for the huge tents and everything.”
The U.S. Women’s Open gets started Thursday in golf’s version of a doubleheader. Just four days after Martin Kaymer won the U.S. Open with the second-lowest score in history (271), it’s the women’s turn.
Everyone from the 53-year-old Inkster to 11-year-old Lucy Li will get a crack on a Donald Ross course fresh on the minds of golf fans who watched the U.S. Open last week.
“Last week with the men, they proved that under par is possible,” defending champion Inbee Park said. “So yeah, we should go out there and try to shoot under par.”
It’s the first time the men and women have competed on the same golf course for a major in back-to-back weeks.