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EXCLUSIVE: Unrelenting Deluge Sends 13-year-old U.S. Women’s Open Alternate Home

Alexa Pano's father told Global Golf Post: "We have made the decision to leave here (Wednesday)."

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA | Circumstances often disappoint. On Wednesday morning, players, caddies, volunteers and media at the U.S. Women’s Open were met with another series of messages announcing yet more delays. From 7 p.m. on Tuesday night until 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Shoal Creek Golf Club received another 1.36 inches of rain to go on top of the 2.41 inches that had fallen in the previous 48 hours as a result of Tropical Depression Alberto. An already saturated golf course became a bog. Standing water was everywhere. No shot could be played from any fairway.

That was enough for one father. Rick Pano, father of 13-year-old Alexa Pano, who is the second alternate in the field, found out on Tuesday that the course and practice facilities would not be open to alternates before play began. As unfair as that decision seemed, it only made sense. Rain has made it almost impossible for all the players in the field to get out and practice. With limited space and time, alternates would, naturally, go to the back of the line.

“We’d figured to come here and, at worst, experience what few 13-year-olds have, to prepare and practice in the top women’s championship in the world, hoping for a withdrawal,” Rick Pano told The Post. “But we have made the decision to leave here (Wednesday) as there is one alternate ahead of Alexa. And even if she got a call (a very remote shot), she’d go out on this course blind. That one is impossible.”  

The weather has disappointed a lot of people so far. Championship director Matt Sawicki told The Post on Tuesday that the grounds crew was scheduled to work all night getting the golf course ready. That additional rain certainly disrupted those plans.

But, as USGA director of competitions and governance John Bodenhamer pointed out yesterday, “We play an outdoor game. Unless we’re ready to put a dome over our golf courses, we always will.”

Right now, no one is playing the game anywhere in Birmingham. Hopefully that changes in the very near future.



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