HOUSTON — As Mark Gillman stood on the first tee at Champions Golf Club’s Jackrabbit course, waiting for his daughter Kristen to start her round, he lamented the picture-perfect conditions that greeted those in attendance.
“We’d hoped it would be hotter than heck,” he said.
Gillman, who lives a few hours west in Austin, assumed his daughter — who struggled in shooting a first-round 79 — would have held a greater advantage if the event was played in the June calendar slot it originally owned. But instead of suffocating, late-spring Texas heat, Thursday brought vivid blue skies and comfortable temperatures to Champions, making the opening round of the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open feel like a vacation for the few who were on-site.
Weather is likely to become a factor, however. Even if it’s not in the way Mark Gillman had hoped.
Thunderstorms are expected to roll into the area on Friday afternoon, and USGA organizers have taken note, moving tee times for the second round up about 90 minutes. The first groups will now go off at 9 a.m. ET.
And while the rains will likely be a nuisance, the real issue could be winds gusting up over 20 miles per hour. Because of the smaller daylight window, the opening two rounds of this U.S. Open are being held on both of the courses at Champions, the first time this tournament has ever been played on multiple courses.
But of the 37 players who finished at even 71 or better, 23 played on the Jackrabbit course, which is a shorter track than neighboring Cypress Creek, but has smaller greens.
If the winds pick up on Friday that might give an advantage to those who played Jackrabbit first, if only because it won’t allow second-round players to take advantage of the “easier” of the two courses.
But Stacy Lewis, who is a member at Champions, said she doesn’t think there is an advantage one way or the other.
“I don’t think so. I mean, I think it’s going to be more the difference of playing one golf course wet and not wet, and I don’t know if there is or if there isn’t an advantage there,” said Lewis, who shot a 1-over 72 on Cypress Creen on Thursday. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.”
The weather might continue to hog the spotlight through the weekend. Sunday’s forecast also includes plenty of rain, the chance of precipitation for the scheduled final round is 70 percent.
For some, like Brittany Lincicome, any sign of wet weather is an impediment.
“Obviously, rain is not going to be helpful. At least it should be warm, which is nice, but the rain really like screws with me,” said Lincicome, who was near the top of the leaderboard before making double-bogey on the 18th hole. “One little drop of rain on my club it like drives me crazy. So Missy, my caddie, is going to have to do a really good job of keeping everything dry.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/10/us-womens-open-weather-factor/