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July 6, 2016

John Bodenhamer

Stuart Francis

Ben Kimball

Matt Sawicki

San Martin, California

MODERATOR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Christina Lance, I'm with USGA communications department. And I'm very happy to welcome you all to the 71st U.S. Women's Open here at the lovely CordeValle.

It's my pleasure to introduce the gentlemen on the panel with me. Stuart Francis, Championship Committee Chairman; Ben Kimball, the Championship Director focusing on the conduct of the Championship inside the ropes; Matt Sawicki, our Championship Director who managers conduct outside the ropes; and finally John Bodenhamer, the USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships and Governance.

At this point, we'll begin things with Stuart Francis.

STUART FRANCIS: Thank you, Christina, and welcome all of you to the 71st U.S. Women's Open Championship. San Jose and San Francisco have really been host to so many great American sporting events over the past six months. We had the Super Bowl in February. We had great postseason runs from the Sharks and the Warriors. The Giants have gotten off to a good start. So this area has just been home to some of the great sporting events in America in 2016.

Now we're very happy to have the 71st U.S. Women's Open Championship here at CordeValle to add to that great list of sports events here in the Bay Area.

Personally, I live in Burlingame, so I've enjoyed each and every one of these contests, and this will be no different. It's going to be a great championship.

We had 1,855 women, the second largest number in history attempt to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. The field has narrowed down to 156 players. They're from 26 different states, another 26 different countries. And we actually have 26 amateurs in the field, as well. And we're always delighted to have amateurs qualify for a U.S. Open Championship.

We also have defending champion In Gee Chun in the field, along with nine other U.S. Open women's champions that are playing here this year.

We're especially honored to have Se Ri Pak join us this year. She captured this championship in 1998, and it was really a momentous win at that point in time, and it opened the women's game up to a whole new universe of people from around the world, and they're all seriously participating this year.

We're also honored to have a host of people who have been critically important to this championship. I'll start out with Stacey Collins, the President of the U.S. Women's Committee. She and her committee have done a wonderful job for this championship this year and every year leading up to it.

We also have Matt Sawicki and Ben Kimball, who are running the championship this year. And we have Darin Bevard, our chief agronomist, who is a very important person here, despite the fact that we get perfect weather every day in northern California.

We'd also like to extend our deep appreciation to the outstanding team here at CordeValle. They've done a wonderful job of preparing the golf course for these championship players coming in this week. We also have had tremendous help from the state and regional golf associations around the country, and frankly around the world, as we've conducted qualifying in a variety of locations, both in the U.S. and Internationally.

With that, I'd like to once again tell you that we're delighted you're all here. We look forward to a very important championship and a very exciting championship. And now it's time to hear from Ben Kimball, who has directed everything that we've prepared this week for.

BEN KIMBALL: Thank you. Good morning, everybody. Let me be the second from the USGA to thank you for being here this morning and let you know how excited we are to be testing the Women's Open here to the CordeValle. This will be the second USGA championship in four years for this facility. Preparing for a championship of this magnitude with the folks here at CordeValle has been energizing and rewarding, especially my time spent with the hard-working grounds staff led by John Marshall and Sean Cracraft. These gentlemen, along with their wonderful staff, have us well positioned for a successful championship.

The golf course architect, Mr. Robert Trent Jones, lives just up the road from here. This facility opened in 1999. We're playing at over 6,800 yards, a par-72 for the championship. It's a well balanced golf course, well balanced yardage with several uphill and downhill holes, elevated tee shots, holes into the wind, away from the wind. Mr. Jones and his staff did a remarkable job visually with this design and several holes here give the appearance of being tight driving corridors, leaving strategy to play in the eye in the mind of the player.

I think you'll find that it's very unlikely this week that we'll play the golf course at full yardage, given some of the alternate teeing grounds and hole locations that we'll use. We'll probably play it less than 6,700 yards the entire time that we're here. But a wonderful, wonderful golf course.

A little bit about setup philosophy this week. We intend this to be a comprehensive test of golf. Not necessarily the hardest test, but a total examination of the players' ability and their mental stability, as well. It's our intention to get every club in the bag dirty on a daily basis. Firm and fast requires players to have to contemplate what the ball does when it hits the ground. We're blessed to have great weather conditions last week, an advance week, and this week we intend to present a firm and fast golf course, and I think the players would say that they're seeing it firm up underneath their feet a little bit each day.

When the golf course is firm, it places an increased value on shot making and course management. We're excited about what comes for us on Thursday. The players are going to have to think their way through this facility. With all that being said, the agronomic team here at CordeValle has done a fabulous job in preserving the health of these fine turf areas through a long, long period of high heat prior to our arrival. It's not easy, folks. The forecast looks great and preparation for the golf course is well under way, and we look forward to a great test of golf.

Also, we constantly evaluate each hole on its own merits without regard to the 18-hole total yardage. Is each individual hole a fair test of golf? That's my responsibility, our responsibility, those of us that are sitting here for the next four days to make sure that we're presenting that fair test of golf.

We'll use a variety of alternate teeing grounds, based on weather, firmness, and some strategically throughout the course of the day, and a lot of the golf holes here at CordeValle have multiple teeing grounds, so we should be in good shape moving forward.

A couple of things in regard to golf course firmness. Moisture levels in the fine turf areas have been maintained fairly high in the interest of turf health. But with cool, dry conditions in the forecast for the week, we are in the process of drying the golf course down to achieve our desired firmness.

Our USGA greens section working in coordination with the great folks on the grounds staff here at CordeValle are doing a magnificent job of that. Firm playing conditions is our goal, but we will be especially mindful of turf health.

Putting greens are being hand watered in the evening and morning to maintain appropriate moisture levels. And there is the likelihood that we may need to syringe some greens between morning and afternoon waves. This weather forecast or weather pattern we're in is certainly helping us with that. But sometimes it's necessary to cool greens off a little bit given the direct sun that they're getting.

In regards to fairway areas, roughs and tees, overseed, those areas are receiving limited overhead irrigation. A lot of hand watering, in the drive zone areas, mainly at this point, for players. But we have to do what's necessary for turf health. So there is some overhead irrigation, and out of play areas, as well.

In regards to rough, we do have some graduated rough. It just varies throughout the property. Last time that we had any maintenance on the rough was on Sunday. We had a 15-foot-wide pass outside the intermediate cut on all holes at three-and-a-quarter inches. And a six-foot pass around all green complexes at three-and-a-quarter inches, and that was last done on Sunday.

If you've had the opportunity to get around the golf course and get to know it and spend some time in these rough areas, it's very inconsistent, which is a good thing for this week. Depending upon where the player hits it, they may be in four inches of rough, they may be in an inch and a half of rough. And that inch and a half of rough is just -- the heat has been impacted it a little bit. And the higher rough that you see out there is now starting to get little bit drier, getting a little weaker as we dial back some of the watering that we're doing. So it's very, very inconsistent throughout the property. It's rough. It's supposed to be inconsistent.

So I think there's some -- for players out there, they're going to get all sorts of lies, which is really intriguing to those of us here on the day as. It's going to be interesting to see how players react to when just off the fairway line and they're in really tall stuff to where they hit it on the next hole and they hit it off the fairway line, and they're in an inch and a half of rough. It's the nature of where we are in the country and the temperatures. As we continue to dry down, that certainly has a significant impact on the rough and its playability, but again we're certainly satisfied with how the rough is playing right now. It should be -- it's kind of a mixed match of heights out there, which is really intriguing.

Just want to talk about a few golf holes, not going to get into each individual hole, but a couple of pivotal holes that are worth bringing up before closing out my comments here. The fourth hole, par-3, 4th hole, will be the longest par-3 that the players face during the championship week. It does play downhill significantly, with a total yardage of this hole is certainly going to play significantly less than the card reads, due it to the elevation change that I mentioned. We may see players utilize the approach to this putting green to help get balls close, but that method will require pretty precise shot and a little bit of luck. So we'll see what happens. It's very likely you'll see us use a variety of teeing grounds for the certain hole locations on that hole.

One of the higher points on the front nine certainly will be impacted by a lot of the wind that's moving around this golf course. Should be an interesting hole to watch.

The short par 5, 5th hole, should provide some exciting moments throughout the championship. Players will have to avoid water hazard to the right of the drive zone on this hole, which means 3-wood could certainly be an option.

Approaches into this catcher's mitt green should be highly entertaining, all shots into the back of the green will certainly release from the back to the complete front of the green. There is a drivable par-4 option available to us in that area, in between 235 yards, 240 yard rage, which will force the players for to hit their tee shot predominantly over the existing hazard. I'll tell ya, if they're short of the green, that's going to probably be the worst place toss miss on the golf course. There's some healthy, healthy rough in front of the green on No. 5. So that's something that we have as part of the strategy, we'll see if it comes into fruition as we get later into the championship. It will be an exciting hole. If you haven't gone out there to see it, the likelihood of a lot of birdies, the likelihood of some eagles, the likelihood of a hole-in-one on a par 5 is out there on this short par 5. So exciting stuff there.

A few holes moving over to the back nine to keep an eye on, the downhill, dog leg par-4, 14th hole will play longer than any other par-4 on the golf course. The elevation from the tee will certainly help the players significantly, but since the drive zone pinches the further you hit it down that fairway, it's likely some players may choose to lay back and avoid the bunker in the tightness of the fairway. The further they lay back, though, it's no bargain going into that putting green that sits a little elevated and well protected with a nice bunker in front. I would suspect, depending upon what the wind does, that this hole will play -- be one of the more difficult holes during the championship.

And lastly, on the back nine, coming into the final hole, you know, will the par 5, 18th lend itself to some similar 72nd hole drama, like we saw last year in 2015? It's bombs away off the tee for players. It's likely that more players will play this as a three shot hole as opposed to a two shot. But don't be surprised if we try to force their hand a little bit and make them have to make a decision down the stretch.

The water hazard impacts every single swing that the player makes on that hole, and especially around the green where risk should be worth the reward of being called 2016 U.S. Women's Open champion.

A little bit of a preview of some of the holes on the golf course. It's really a wonderful lay out. We look forward to putting forth a wonderful test of golf. For those of you in the room, just a reminder with the U.S. Women's Open championship, if we do have players tied after 72 holes, we do have a three-hole aggregate playoff. Those three holes that will be used for the playoff will be holes 16, 17 and 18. If players are still tied after those three holes, we'll play 18 repeated until we have our national champion.

With all this being said, there's one final component that comes into play at every USGA championship that is worth mentioning. I can't tell you when and where it will come into play, but the players, the players will know when it does. No matter where we put the tees or hole locations during the championship, the sheer pressure of winning a national championship will affect every decision and every swing a player makes down the stretch. We can't predict or dictate when that pressure sets in, but I guarantee you that this wonderful golf course will have a hand in it.

Let me say again how excited we are to be at CordeValle for this year's Women's Open. We're absolutely thrilled with where the golf course is at the current time and look forward to getting balls in the air tomorrow.

Let me turn to over to my colleague, here, Matt Sawicki, who can with speak to other facets of the championship.

MATT SAWICKI: Thank you, Ben, and it's truly a pleasure for all of us at the USGA to come here to northern California. Of course, the USGA has had tremendous success in this region of the country. We haven't had a U.S. Women's Open in northern California since 1982. Of course, we've hosted many other championships, the U.S. Open, more recently a Senior Women's Amateur Championship here at CordeValle in 2013, and the U.S. Senior Open in Sacramento, last year.

This championship, as many of you know, is a tremendous undertaking, and we cannot do it without many partners here on the ground. There are a few people that I'd like to recognize today: Carol Kaufman, our general Chairman of the Championship; Lucca Ratigliano, Managing Director of the resort; Jeff Holland, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing; Brian Flagel, our Championship Director; Sean Cracraft and Bob Marshall, perhaps the two most important people on the property this week, who have done a phenomenon job of preparing this golf course. I have to extend extra credit to Bob, he was away at Oakmont watching his son compete and make the cut there at Oakmont a few weeks ago and still was able to whip this place into tremendous shape.

We've had tremendous cooperation from local authorities, Santa Clara County, the California Highway Patrol all have been terrific.

The unsung heroes of any championship, of course, are the volunteers. We have more than 1,500 on property this week, and we could truly not conduct this championship without them. To all of you, thank you.

You may have noticed some of our junior activities going on today. We're using flags on our flag sticks recognizing the USGA girls golf program. Representatives from that program are on putting greens tending the flag sticks. We also have kids from a number of other programs, including The First Tee, who are now taking part in a new clinic concept that we have on the ground this week.

Shane O'Donoghue is out on the 8th green as we speak. Each group that comes through that hole, he will ask the players questions about how they started in the game of golf. What they're doing to mentally prepare for the championship. And what they are doing on that specific hole with respect to playing their shot. Hopefully these juniors have a new look as to how the professionals play this wonderful game.

We're excited once again about our broadcast coverage here at the Women's Open. We have more than 18 hours of live broadcast coverage on FS1 and FOX. We will have additional streaming on USGA.org. I would, of course, be remiss if I didn't mention our social media hash tag, when is #USwomensopen.

Finally, I just remind everyone that tickets are still on sale. With our junior program, all kids 17 and under are able to enter the championship for free. Our daily ticket prices are as low as $45. With are those ticket prices, combined with the kids in for free program, we believe that this group of players is perhaps the most fan friendly group of players anywhere in professional sports. And we'd encourage all families to come out and enjoy this wonderful championship.

Thank you all for coming, and we look forward to a great 2016 U.S. Women's Open.

MODERATOR: Thank you for being here today. We're going to open the floor for any questions. I'll ask you to raise your hand and wait to someone to come.

Q. Gentlemen, what steps have been taken to prevent what happened at Oakmont with the ruling situation?
JOHN BODENHAMER: Well, since the learnings of Oakmont just 17 days ago, I guess I would put it this way, if we're confronted with another situation, we will take steps that it will be different this week in two ways. We will expedite our decision making throughout the process, rule making, rule decision process. And we will communicate with players in a decisive manner. We recognize that there was some uncertainty at Oakmont on that last day, and we are committed to not have that happen again.

I think also as we've committed, as we said, since Oakmont, we've committed to really look at everything across the board, with all of our processes. Take this opportunity to look at everything. And that's going to take some time. But we've already started that process. As I said it's just been 17 days and we think that we've already taken proactive steps to make it different and better this week.

Q. In those 17 days, there have been a number of people from an AJGA event I was at last week and people I've talked with this week who don't understand Rule 18-2. What are we doing in terms of clarification of that rule, particularly?
JOHN BODENHAMER: Well, the rules, you know, we recognize the rules are complex. In a desire for precision in the rules over the years, they've become complex. We recognize that. And as a result, a couple of years ago, we undertook a project, a special project with The R&A to look at that complexity, a fundamental review of the rules. We're well along in that process. Rule 18-2 is just one of 34 rules that are part of that process that we're looking at. And we're very optimistic that we'll get to a better place. As part of that process.

To clarify and simplify, and really modernize the rules. So we think that rather than jump to any knee jerk reaction, we're going to go about this the right way and do the right thing for the game. When you look at the rules and you bring about change, you have to look at it in a broad perspective. You change one rule, it can have a cascading effect on many rules. We're looking at all of that, we take it very seriously. And I guess I would address the complexity of the rules in that manner.

Q. Following up on the rules issue, do you think -- to a lot of just people, who aren't immersed in the rules of the game, there's sort of a cry, couldn't the rules be more simple? Do you think this incident will ever lead to a serious simplify indication, where possible, so that to people on the outside it might make more common sense?
JOHN BODENHAMER: Well, you know, if you look at the nature of our game being played outdoors, on a wide variety of golf courses all around the world, by an assortment of players, with an assortment of different clubs, it's by nature complex. And so for the rules to operate effectively to address situations that come up in such a complex landscape, there's always going to be some sort of complexity to them. But we do believe, and that's why we've undertaken this special project with The R&A, to do what we did in 1952, when we began to partner with The R&A, and then again in 1984, when we reorganized the rules, periodically take a fundamental look at all of them, and what the world looks like today, and to modernize them, and bring as much common sense to them as we can, recognizing that we still want to treat golfers across any field or across any part of the game equitably. We're committed to get to a different place just as soon as we can that would allow golfers to understand and learn and use the rules more than they do today.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much for joining us. We're all up here ready to answer any further questions you may have individually. Once again, we're looking forward to a great week here at CordeValle. Thank you.

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