By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship (WAPL) was created for the everyday player. The women who walked away with the tournament title often have regarded it as one of their most cherished championships.
However, the 36-year-old WAPL is on its last leg. Next year will be the final time anyone will be able to say they won the public links championship.
“This championship was created because the U.S. Women’s Amateur was basically for players who belonged to private courses,” said Rhonda Glenn, manager of USGA communications. “This tournament was an opportunity to embrace more people into the game and give them a national championship. In the past 20 years, they have decided to make the Women’s Amateur also open. So it’s no longer for private course players. Most of the players here are also going to play in the U.S. Women’s Open Amateur. So it was like a duplication of effort.”
The USGA will replace the WAPL with a best-ball team championship.
With only two tournaments left, that makes the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship even more meaningful. It will be held June 17-22 at The Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, and will be free admission to all spectators.
Even though Jimmie Austin has played host to the men’s US Amateur in 2009, this will be the first time the club has ever put on the WAPL.
“It’s a great event,” said Rodney Young, director of golf at The Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club. “It’s one of those events you can walk with the players. You’re not behind. You’re right there. You’re close to them.”
Officials are expecting more than 700 players across to country to attempt to qualify for the WAPL. But only 156 players will get the chance to compete on the par 72 course. They include last year’s two finalist: Kyung Kim and Ashlan Ramsey.
Kim won the 2012 title by knocking in 10 birdies over 34 holes. That was enough to hold off Ramsey, who had eight birdies during her final round.
“Including practice rounds, they are playing nine days of consecutive golf to be in the finals,” WAPL director Teresa Saponaro Belmont. “It’s harder to win this than the U.S. Women’s Open.”
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