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Inbee Park, Sebonack Golf Club Stage A Historic U.S. Women’s Open

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This story originally appeared on Forbes.com (7/1/2013)

Southampton, New York is known as the glamorous vacation destination for some of the wealthiest people in the world. Last month, FORBES featured its affluent neighborhood, Meadow Lane, where in 2012, the median sale price for a home was upwards of $18 million.

Southhampton is also home to theSebonack Golf Club, which sits on 300-acres overlooking the Peconic Bay. The course is the brain-child of Michael Pascucci, the founder and owner of Long Island’s WLNY-TV Channel 55. And in addition to being a media mogul, his distinct claim-to-fame is being the high school teammate of NFL Hall-of-Fammer, Jim Brown.

When Pascucci acquired the pristine property in 2001 for $46 million, he promised that the course would maintain as natural to the true landscape. To do so, he used $115 million of his own resources and enlisted legendary golfer, Jack Nicklaus, and eco-sensitive golf architect, Tom Doak, to serve as co-designers.

“The golf course was really here,” said Pascucci of the property. “It just didn’t have greens and tee boxes and a couple of bunkers that have been cut out.”

When the private golf club opened in 2006, it joined a prestigious list of clubs in the Hamptons including Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (four-time U.S. Open site and founding USGA Member Club) and The National Golf Links of America (1922 and 2013 Walker Cup). Nevertheless, Pascucci did not shy away from hosting a national championship and putting the course to the test.

Well, more like putting the world’s best female golfer to the test.

Sebonack Golf Club welcomed its first major championship when it hosted the68th U.S. Women’s Open Championship (June 27-30). The championship began with a156-player field that were among a record 1,420 entries besting the previous record of 1,364 which was set in 2012 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin. The field represented a diverse array of players from 22 countries and ranging in ages from 14-53 years old.

“The U.S. Women’s Open continues to serve as the premier venue for women’s championships in the game, testing the finest players in the world on the finest courses in America,” said Dot Paluck, Chairman of the USGA Women’s Committee.

In the end, Inbee Park, the 24-year old Korean, captured the 2013 U.S. Open Women’s Championship. Entering as the favorite after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the Wegman’s LPGA Championship, Park is the first player of the modern era to capture three straight major titles to begin a season (1950 was the last time this feat was accomplished). And further putting her win into perspective, on the men’s side, only Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods have accomplished similar victories.

“To win the first three majors is monumental,” said Nancy Lopez, Hall-of-Famer and LPGA Champion. “I never thought about trying to do that. You set majors as a goal, but to win them and win three of them that’s tough.”

Park’s string of success follows the pattern of Asian players dominating the LPGA Tour as of late. An Asian player has won the last nine major championships, and Korean players have won six of the last eight majors. The top three finishers at the U.S. Women’s Open were Korean golfers including Park, I.K. Kim, and So Yeon Ryu, who won $585,000, $350,000, and $217,958 respectively. American golfers Paula Creamer and Angela Stanford tied for fourth along with England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff who each earned $127,972.

LPGA Commission, Michael Whan was asked how the dominance from Korea affects the LPGA’s American business model. He said, “A lot of our sponsors are based in the U.S., but we have a global business as well.” He went on to comment, “Our business does the same thing. We might be playing here at Sebonack, but 160 countries will be watching us.”

Lopez also commented on the state of the game by saying, “I think it is hard for Americans to watch players from other countries winning all the time, and that’s not a negative. It would bring a lot of interest if we can get the number one player in the U.S. playing well against Inbee Park, someone who can go head-to-head against her. It would bring that excitement and those rivalries that we are missing right now.”

Good Night Sports Fans,

Alana

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