U.S. Open won’t be the only golf game in town this summer 

click to enlarge Ariya Jutanugarn - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images File Photo
  • Ariya Jutanugarn

DALY CITY — After the sun sets on the final round of the U.S. Open in June, local golf fans will only need to wait a month to attend another highly competitive, world-class golf tournament.

The 64th U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships will tee off at the Lake Merced Golf Club on July 16, bringing the world’s best female golfers younger than age 18 to the Bay Area for another stirring week on the links.

“It’s a great springboard,” two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Juli Inkster said at media day Tuesday.

The tournament will be the second U.S. Golf Association event held at Lake Merced. The club also hosted the 1990 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship won by then-17-year-old Mathew Todd. A 14-year-old up-and-comer by the name of Tiger Woods also competed in the event, qualifying for the semifinals. Woods would go on to win the USGA’s next three junior amateur titles.

Lake Merced has hosted more than 100 amateur events since the course opened in 1923, along with California’s first professional women’s tournament in 1941.

Roughly 1,100 amateur golfers from more than 10 countries will compete in sectionals across the U.S. in June vying to land one of 156 spots in the tournament.  The contest kicks off with stroke play on July 16, and after two days, the lowest 64 scorers will advance to match play. From that point forward, the competitors will square off in one-on-one contests until two golfers are left standing for a 36-hole championship final July 21.

The 6,291-yard course offers an array of challenges: 73 bunkers, a rolling, hilly terrain of tree-lined fairways and a rough that’s 2½  inches thick.

“We have some wide fairways, but those fairways get pretty tight along the edges,” USGA representative Donna Mummert said. “Course management will really be a key.”

Competitors can count on the course’s recently restored bentgrass greens to play smooth and firm, but weather along the coast is an unpredictable variable.

“The marine layer has the potential to arrive and depart at a moment’s notice,” Lake Merced superintendent Zachary Ohsann said. “The unpredictable nature of our weather patterns in our microclimate may turn out to be one of the most challenging aspects for the players.”

Last year’s champion, 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, will be on hand to defend her title.

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Paul Gackle

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