Acharya enjoying all that Open has to offer

2014-06-18T23:00:00Z 2014-06-20T15:08:07Z Acharya enjoying all that Open has to offerBy BILL BIGHAUS bbighaus@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Jasi Acharya said “you can get spoiled really quickly here” at the 69th U.S. Women’s Open.

There are fancy courtesy cars, lockers full of free golf goodies, adoring fans seeking autographs and brushes with golf greats like former Open champions Carol Mann (1965) and Jan Stephenson (1983).

“It’s so nice,” the 30-year-old Columbus golfer said of the festive environment and perks surrounding her at the Pinehurst No. 2 course in North Carolina. “Everybody is really excited to have us here.”

Acharya begins play in her first Open on Thursday. She is scheduled to go off the No. 10 tee at 10:30 a.m. (Mountain), along with amateurs Chisato Hashimoto, 16, of Japan and Elizabeth Tong, 21, of Canada.

A regular on the LPGA developmental Symetra Tour, Acharya said her game plan for the Open includes “playing every shot as well as I can and whatever happens, happens. I feel like I’m ready.”

She made the 156-player field — featuring the world’s best female golfers — by winning a 36-hole sectional qualifier in St. Louis, Mo., in late May.

Acharya has been practicing since Sunday morning at Pinehurst, which also hosted last week’s U.S. Open for the men, and has played a series of practice rounds.

“Every time I play the golf course I like it even more,” said the former Columbus High School and University of Montana star. “It’s playing great right now. It’s playing fair. If you hit a good shot, usually you’re going to be rewarded.”

Acharya said she has used her practice time on the historic layout to assess the narrow fairways, the hardpan rough and bunkers from multiple tee boxes and “get a good feel for where I need to be.”

She has also been choosing her safe landing spots on the elevated greens, and making notes on the breaks, speed and slope.

“I’m happy with the way I’m playing right now,” said the former two-time Montana State Amateur champion. “It feels like it’s coming together, so we’ll see.”

On Tuesday, Acharya said she received some shot-making advice and encouragement during a conversation with Mann, a Hall of Famer. “It was really cool,” she said of their visit.

When she first pulled into the parking lot at Pinehurst on Sunday, she immediately crossed paths with Martin Kaymer, who was leading the men’s Open, and wished him good luck heading into the final round.

Kaymer won by eight strokes.

“I’m enjoying the entire experience, for sure,” Acharya said. “I know it will go by in a flash. I just want to get out there and hit my first shot.”

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