U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

The Loop

Virtual U.S. Open: No rain!

June 20, 2009

Contrary to what's occurred with the real championship, rain has delayed zero rounds in the Virtual U.S. Open, conducted by World Golf Tour. As of Friday, Alex Withers, who heads the USGA's digital effort, said there had been 140,000 entries in the cyber event, well beyond WGT's 100,000 goal.

One player has a foot in both worlds: Ryuji Imada, who shot 75 in his opening round, prepped for the real Open using the game. "He came to us and said, 'Can you create a player with my exact specs?'" said Yu Chiang Cheng, WGT's CEO. "He gave us his yardages with every club and we built a player for him. He said it helped him get to know the course even before he'd ever been here. He said it saved him a lot of walking." And how did Imada do virtually? "I don't tell you what he shot the first time out," said Chad Nelson, WGT president. "But he said it was very hard." (As of this morning, he's also in danger of missing the real cut).

The World Golf Tour folks think many players will use games like this one to create game plans for courses they have yet to see, especially if the game is built on photographs--about 100,000 of them in this case--as WGT's Bethpage game is.

Weather forecast for today's virtual Open: Fair and sunny.

--Bob Carney