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Eric Peterson, Published July 07 2011

Anderson savors time on big stage as U.S. Women's Open begins today

FARGO - Amy Anderson has had more than a week to get acclimated to the Broadmoor golf course in Colorado Springs, Colo., prepping for the biggest golf event of her career.

The North Dakota State golfer from Oxbow, N.D., however, isn’t stressing about playing in the U.S. Women’s Open, which starts today. Anderson is set to tee off at 10:01 a.m. CDT.

“I’m not nervous at all,” Anderson said in a phone interview. “I’m loving this. This is so much fun, just to be a part of it. … I walk into the locker room and there’s Natalie Gulbis right there and Paula Creamer and all these people who I grew up watching and kind of idolizing.”

During a couple practice sessions, Anderson said Suzann Pettersen was playing a hole behind her.

“She’s been the person that I have watched and looked up to the past two years,” Anderson said. “I was like, ‘Whoa,’ she was right behind me, hitting up on the green when I was up on the tee box. … Talking to them and being around them, it’s less intimidating than I thought it would be.”

One of the few amateurs in the field, Anderson said the toughest part of playing in the major event is the course itself.

“It’s just the way the course is set up right now, it’s pretty intimidating,” she said.

The fairways are narrow. The rough is thick and the greens are fast and tricky. Anderson said during one of her practice sessions, she was 113 yards out and trying to hit the ball onto the green with an iron.

“I got it halfway to the green because I was in the rough,” Anderson said. “I swung as hard as I could with an 8-iron and the club just catches. You really can’t hit it anywhere.”

“And finally when you do get on the green, that’s the hardest part. You can’t see how they’re going to break. There’s a mountain factor going on. The whole course is built on a hill so it’s an optical illusion.”

Anderson said the greens have slowed since her first practice sessions on the course early last week. Anderson has four-putted more times this past week than she has in her previous three of four years, she said.

“I was just laughing the first day because it was borderline ridiculous,” Anderson said. “I was just shocked the first day, and then as I have been here the last few days, they’ve softened them and grown them out a little bit. They’re a little bit slower. I think that first shock was a reality check. Like, ‘Whoa, this is way different than I’m used to,’ but then it’s gotten a little bit easier so I have relaxed a lot.”

Over the past few days, Anderson said the crowds have been coming out for the practice sessions. Off the first tee, each golfer has their name announced and there is a big grandstand with “people watching and clapping,” she said.

“And I wasn’t nervous, which was a relief,” said Anderson. “I think I’m kind of starting to settle down. I’m realizing, not that I necessarily belong here, but I don’t stand out like I shouldn’t be here.”

Even though she is an amateur, Anderson said little girls have been asking for her autograph. One mom told Anderson that she remembered watching Anderson win the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur a couple years ago.

“She said that I inspired their daughters because they’re from a (small) town in Illinois and I’m from nowhere in North Dakota, so you don’t have to have the huge resume of living in Florida or whatever to be good,” Anderson said. “It’s really neat to hear those stories.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com