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July 7, 2011

Ben Kimball


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, Ben Kimball, director of the U.S. Women's Open Championship.
Ben, will you just brief us on the status of the championship thus far, how many players have yet to complete the first round, and that sort of thing.
BEN KIMBALL: Yeah, it looks like right now there's two groups on each side of the afternoon wave that were able to get off. So we're looking at right around 72 players, I believe, that have yet to actually start the U.S. Women's Open's Championship.
Hopefully we can continue to make up ground in the next couple days.

Q. What time will they be going off tomorrow?
BEN KIMBALL: Great question. I'll give everybody kind of a rundown of our schedule for tomorrow. It's the same information obviously that's going to the players.
Practice facilities are going to be opening at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow. We will be pushing players to shuttles at 7:20 to get them back out on to the golf course by 7:45. That's our restart time for tomorrow, is 7:45. Now, that 7:45 restart time is for the players that are actually on the golf course currently.
For the players that have not hit a tee shot yet in this championship, those times will be from 7:52 to 9:42. You may be asking why the seven-minute difference, and that's because we do have players in the drive zone on holes 1 and 10, and we want to make sure that we give them the ability to clear the drive zone before anybody goes off, as well as try and keep as best possible, our 11-minute intervals that we started this morning with.
Round 2, if Mother Nature is friendly to us, Round 2 is going to start at 1:30 p.m., and that wave will be from 1:30 p.m. to 3:42 p.m.
The p.m. wave for Round 2 is going to start at 7:00 p.m. and will go to 9:12 p.m.
You're probably wondering, Well, at 9:12 p.m. are we going to have any daylight? Well, we're probably not, so it looks like we'll have to continue. Round 2 will continue over into Saturday, and we'll make our cut and move into Round 3 at that point.
RHONDA GLENN: I just have two more questions. So how much does that push back the second round starting times? How many hours.
BEN KIMBALL: Well, it looks like, you know, obviously we'd want to start Round 2 at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, so we're looking at -- you know, I haven't worked that math out in my head, Rhonda. I apologize.
RHONDA GLENN: What was it, about 1:00 something?
BEN KIMBALL: 1:30 is when Round 2 was going to start.
RHONDA GLENN: So six-and-a-half hours, then.
BEN KIMBALL: Yeah, about six-and-a-half hours, that's right.
RHONDA GLENN: And the USGA's overriding philosophy, I believe, is to play when you can; is that correct?
BEN KIMBALL: Absolutely. You know, I'm sure some people were surprised at how early we made the call today with the weather. I kind have been explaining it to other staff and folks.
If you actually sat down and looked at the radar screen and what's come in here right now, it's kind of like planes lining out for an approach into a major metropolitan airport. Just one after the next with very, very little gaps in between.
So we never really had a chance to get back out, give the players an opportunity to warm up, and by the time we did all that, we probably would be turning it right back around and coming in.
So I'm extremely disappointed that we couldn't get a lot more golf in today. We're going to have to work that much harder over the next couple days to get it done.
Obviously the USGA is not a stranger to situations like this, but we're going to do what Mother Nature allows us to do and continue to get in as much golf as we possibly can to provide a Sunday finish.
With that being said, I think it's important to note that, we are going to consider all the options for Rounds 3 and 4, whether that means we're going to have a two-tee start and go off 1 and 10 and maybe in Rounds 3 and 4 have threesomes instead of twosomes.
I think we'd be silly if we didn't consider all those options. But I also think it's important to know where we stand. You know, Round 3 starting times and the setup could be different than Round 4.
At this point, it's a little hard to predict what's gonna happen the next couple days, but we're going to consider all options and make sure that we try and get this thing finished on Sunday.
RHONDA GLENN: Questions?

Q. Two questions: Why the 7:45 start instead of 7:00 tomorrow? And then, for an example, like players that are on the green now, how are their balls marked overnight? I mean, do you put a spray paint spot down, or how do you handle that sort of thing?
BEN KIMBALL: The 7:45 start, you know, you have to -- we don't want to give up precious minutes. We know that, you know, the clock is ticking and we need to get the golf in.
But, you know, there are so many operational and logistical things that have to be just right in order to get things back out. You know, basically the sunrise and the amount of time that we need to get the golf course prepped, all those factors weigh into kind of when we can resume.
If we're out there a little bit before 7:45 and everybody's in place and ready to go, would we consider going at 7:43? I'm sure we probably would just to keep things going.
But with shuttles, giving the players opportunity to use the practice facilities -- and you've got to think, we have quite a crowded golf course out there right now, so I think, thank God, you know, the Broadmoor practice facility is fairly large so we can get all those players out there at once.
That's also something we have to consider. With that many players, we want to give them an appropriate amount of time to be able to squeeze in and do what they need to do.
After considering all those factors, we just felt that 7:45 was an appropriate start, not only for the USGA but, you know, for the host committee and volunteer committees involved with the championship.
And in regards to your second question, you know, the rules of golf will handle all those situations with ball marks and tees left in fairways, bunkers, and greens. We will address and proceed as far as with our morning prep the rules of golf.
There are certain situations that we'll address. You know, if a coin is moved by tonight's weather or anything like that, if a golf ball that was left behind is no longer there in the morning, the players have certain procedures that they'll follow in order to get their golf ball back on the ground if their lie is altered, all those types of things. Those are all covered within the rules of golf.
As of right now, I know our grounds crew was actually out and about marking locations on greens and in fairways so that our morning mowers didn't run over them or we didn't get a coin in a morning mower. That's the last thing we need right now.
It's not our first opportunity to get to do this, so we should be in pretty good shape.

Q. I have two quick questions: First of all, when you're looking at your scenarios for the weekend, is there a magic number that that cut needs to come in at to get it through by Sunday? The other question I wanted to ask is - and it would be going back a little bit - but with the weather you've had and now the rain you're getting here, are we getting into a spot where your golf course is becoming Congressional soft?
BEN KIMBALL: You know, to answer your first question, I think 84 players, you know, can you do two-tee start and threesomes with 84 players no problem. Any more than that it tends to get a little bit tricky in making that work.
You know, just the early-morning scores I saw, you know, it's obviously a difficult golf course and nobody is going to be -- well, I can't say nobody -- but I don't know if there's going to be a runaway leader like we saw at Congressional.
In regards to the impact the weather has had on the golf course, you know, obviously it's going to make the golf course a little bit longer. That's something that we're going to have to obviously look at when we prepare for Round 2.
However, you know, as the forecast changes at this elevation and this climate, things tend to dry out very, very quickly. I think we're just going to have to keep an eye on what Mother Nature gives us.
Are some of the putting green surfaces and things going to be a little bit more receptive? Absolutely. We'll just have to work with what we've got.
Just hope for the best and hope things change and we get a little bit better forecast the next couple of days.

Q. That's actually a lead-in to what I was going to ask you: What's the forecast you've been given for the next couple of days?
BEN KIMBALL: You know, it seems that, you know, as far as tomorrow is concerned it looks like, you know, the pattern that we're in right now is going to change a little bit.
Is there a chance of scattered thunderstorms tomorrow? Absolutely. Is that percentage as high as it was today? It's not.
But, you know, you just never know. I think once we get to Saturday, Sunday, I think those are going to be our best days. If we can get through tomorrow without anything, I think we'll be home free.
But obviously we're already playing catchup at this point, and we just hope for a break.
RHONDA GLENN: Well, never forget 1987 Plainfield, New Jersey. Women's Open didn't end until Tuesday night. So far, so good. Thank you all very much.

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