A record 2,107 entries were accepted by the USGA for the 78th U.S. Women’s Open Championship that will be contested at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links July 6-9. It is the first time the iconic seaside layout is hosting the most prestigious championship in women’s golf. Pebble Beach has been the site of six previous U.S. Opens won by the likes of Jack Nicklaus (1972), Tom Watson (1982) and Tiger Woods (2000).
Between May 9 and June 7, more than 2,000 hopefuls will look to gain a spot in the 156-player field via 36-hole qualifying at 26 sites: 23 in the United States and one each in Belgium, Canada and Japan.
Here are five things to know about 2023 qualifying:
►Two U.S. Women’s Open champions are hoping to get back to the championship proper; 2007 winner Cristie Kerr and 2010 champ Paula Creamer. Both players recently received special exemptions for the 2021 championship at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif. Both Kerr, 45, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Creamer, 36, of Pleasanton, Calif., are attempting to qualify May 15 at Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield, N.J.
►Has it been nine years since a precocious, ice-cream-bar-loving Lucy Li made history by qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2 at the tender age of 11? Now 20 and an LPGA Tour rookie, the Northern California native would love nothing more than to make the 2-hour drive from her home in Redwood Shores to Pebble Beach. In 2021, she tied for 16th at The Olympic Club as a qualifier. The four-time U.S. Women’s Open qualifier is scheduled to play Marin Country Club in Novato, Calif., on May 22.
►Speaking of Li, 9-year-old Bella Simoes has her sights firmly on becoming the championship’s youngest qualifier. The Brazilian who now resides in South Florida was the youngest competitor to file an entry. She already owns a pair of U.S. Kids Golf age-group titles, but at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Fla., on May 9, Simoes hopes to make some USGA history. She won’t turn 10 until Aug. 13, a full month after the U.S. Women’s Open concludes.
►Starmount Forest Country Club, in Greensboro, N.C., has a previous history with the USGA, having hosted the 1947 U.S. Women’s Open won by Betty Jameson. Members and fans who attend the May 31 qualifier will witness a strong field that includes a pair of Wake Forest standouts who competed on the last two USA Curtis Cup Teams (Emilia Migliacco and Rachel Kuehn) as well as USGA champions Erica Shepherd (2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior and 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball) and Thienna Huynh (2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball). Also in the field are college standouts Amanda Sambach (Virginia), Megan Schofill (Auburn), Anna Morgan (Furman), and Lauren Walsh (Wake Forest, 2021 and 2022 Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup Team), along with Joan Gossett Oates, the sister of 1999 U.S. Amateur champion David Gossett, who captured his title at Pebble Beach.
►Molly Smith made national headlines last week when she barely missed advancing out of a local U.S. Open qualifier in her home state of Massachusetts. Now the 18-year-old from Westford, who is headed to the University of Central Florida this fall, will look to qualify for her first U.S. Women’s Open at Duxbury Yacht Club on June 7, along with her 19-year-old sister, Morgan (headed to Georgetown). They will warm up for that 36-hole event by competing in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. Other notable U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball competitors entered in qualifying include last year’s runners-up Bailey Shoemaker and Kaitlyn Schroeder (both at Bradenton C.C. in Florida on May 22); 2023 champion Sara Im (Palatine Golf Club in Illinois June 7); two-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Julia Potter-Bobb (Bellerive C.C. in St. Louis on May 24); 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up Gianna Clemente (The Club at Mediterra in Florida on May 9); 2021 WAFB champions Savannah Barber and Alexa Saldana (Indian Creek Golf Club in Texas on May 25); and 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur champ Anna Davis (Valencia C.C. in California on May 22).
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.