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USGA official: Pinehurst No. 2 to be set up similarly for both men's, women's US opens

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PINEHURST, N.C. - Pinehurst's No. 2 course will be set up the same way for both U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open this year.

U.S. Golf Association Executive Director Mike Davis said Saturday that the par-70 course will play at about 7,500 yards for the men's and about 6,700 yards for the women.

"On a given hole, if the men are hitting drivers, we want to see the women hit drivers," he said during the USGA's annual meeting. "If the men are hitting 6- to 8-irons for approach shots, that's what we want to see the women do."

The USGA is roughly four months away from its first-of-its-kind doubleheader: The men's event is June 12-15 with the women's tournament the following week.

"While we want to test the same things for both championships, there are differences in how men and women play the game," Davis said.

Davis says the USGA's reason for going back-to-back was to bring more attention to the women's game.

"This was never about trying to make it operationally easier or save money," Davis said. "This was all about comparing the world's best men with the world's best women."

He says the women are playing the second week — and not the first — because of agronomics.

"We had a much better chance of getting the golf course right for both championships" with the women playing second, he said.

"It really gets down to the putting greens. The first week, if Mother Nature is co-operative, they're going to be slightly firmer. ... Very firm greens to slightly — underscore, slightly — less firm greens that second week. And agronomically, it was much easier to do the second week than the first."

The 107-year-old, Donald Ross-designed course underwent a $2.5 million renovation in 2010-11. The face-lift, led by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, was designed to restore some of its original elements in plenty of time for the two opens — including removing all traces of rough.

With so much foot traffic expected on the course during the doubleheader, divots are inevitable — especially during the second week. But Davis says the Bermuda grass isn't as divot-prone as bent grass, and says they will be filled with sand.

"I think our view is (divots are) just part of the game," he said.

Davis says the USGA wants to blend the two opens together, in a way — perhaps by having some women's players show up in the TV booth on the 18th green to break down the men's play.

"While they're clearly two different championships, we're looking at it as one big event," Davis said. "This is really a chance, on the same golf course, to test the world's best."

Also, Thomas J. O'Toole Jr. was elected as USGA's 63rd president. The 56-year-old O'Toole, from St. Louis, will serve a one-year term.

"It is an honour and a privilege to lead such a noble organization," O'Toole said. "I am excited and energized to continue my service to the association and keenly aware of the magnitude of the profound responsibilities that accompany this role."

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Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

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