U.S. Open at Bethpage Black: Supersized championship, shrinking economy

Monday May 4th, 2009

Nearly every aspect of the U.S. Open is about size and scope. The rough is thicker than any other tournament. The crowds and courses are huge. The United States Golf Association received a record 9,086 player entries for next month's Open at beastly Bethpage Black, which features the longest par 4 (the 525-yard 7th) in championship history.
But during Monday's U.S. Open media day, the focus was on the sagging American economy  and the boost the championship may provide to the New York region. 
With lower-than-expected corporate hospitality sales, the USGA has decided to make corporate tickets available for the general public. Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis from Thursday, June 11, through Sunday, June 14. The U.S. Open will-call facility at Bethpage State Park will be open on these days from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Ticket prices are as follows: $400 for weekly passes, $100 for daily passes, $40 for practice rounds. (Kids 12 and under get in free with an adult ticket-holder; tickets for juniors age 13 to 17 will be $15 for practice rounds and $30 for championship rounds.)
"This is a chance for the USGA to share more of the action at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black with our New York fan base," said David Fay, the USGA executive director. "Since it will be a number of years until the U.S. Open returns to the New York area, we hope that New York sports fans take advantage of the opportunity to be a part of the U.S. Open experience."
At the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, played nine months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the championship represented a moment of healing for a bruised region. The gallery turned the championship into a week long gabfest, complete with a chop-busting welcome for many of the players. 
"The crowds were amazing," Tiger Woods said in a conference call today. "I think that atmosphere, I don't think we have ever seen. Obviously, the state of our country, 9/11 happened, and everyone from that city came out and supported and wanted some type of relief."
The vibe around New York is different now, subdued for a different reason. But whatever the season, and no matter the economy or number of corporate tents, New York remains New York, feisty and frank, ready to host a United States Open once more. Follow golf and NFL updates at www.twitter.com/SI_DamonHack

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