Q&A: Golf Channel’s Morgan Pressel played U.S. Open courses Los Angeles CC and Pebble Beach in back-to-back days. What did she think?

Morgan Pressel made history when she first qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at the tender age of 12. Her appearance at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club back in 2001 led to a significant increase in teens and pre-teens signing up for Women’s Open qualifying, forever changing the makeup of the championship.

Pressel, of course, went on to clinch a major championship title at age 18 when she won the 2007 Kraft Nabisco (now the Chevron). After 16 seasons on the LPGA, the former prodigy shifted focus to her work in television. She’s now lead analyst for LPGA coverage on Golf Channel/NBC and adds the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club to her work schedule next month.

The USGA recently held back-to-back media days for the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens, and Pressel participated in both, teeing it up at LACC for the first time as well as Pebble Beach Golf Links, which hosts the Women’s Open for the first time in July. It’s also the first U.S. Open for the North Course at LACC.

Golfweek was on hand for both media days and caught up with Pressel to talk about the significance of both venues and her key takeaways. The following are excerpts from that conversation:

It’s a course not many people are familiar with, can you give me your first impressions of LACC?

I absolutely loved LACC. I didn’t really know what to expect. Obviously, I had never seen it, most people in the world have never seen it, and I was just blown away.

It has great character, is very undulating, more undulating than I expected it to be. It’s stunning, another thing I wasn’t expecting being in one of the biggest cities in the country.  The views are gorgeous. It has a great mix of tough holes, scorable holes. I just thought it had a great variety of different shots that you have to hit. I loved everything about it. I thought it was just an awesome day.

How do you hope it plays in June?

The 4th hole of Los Angeles Country Club, North Course in the Los Angeles, Calif. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)

I think it will get firmer, and I think that the greens will get quicker. But I also think the greens are so severe that they can’t get too much faster, not that they were anywhere near tournament speed. Some hole locations could get really severe if the green speeds are really quick, which I would expect them to see.

I’d love to see some more rough. I feel like the rough wasn’t quite where the USGA would want it just yet. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it being a good bit longer, especially around the greens, not including the bunker surrounds that are quite deep, where you could lose golf balls. Just the general Bermuda rough area … it just hasn’t been that warm, so I think that’s been something they’ve been struggling with in getting the Bermudagrass to grow.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role for Golf Channel/NBC team that week and how you’ll prepare?

Morgan Pressel as seen during the 2023 U.S. Open Preview Day in the Los Angeles , Calif. on Monday, May 1, 2023. (Copyright USGA/Don Liebig)

I’m excited to be part of the broadcast team. I’ll be one of the analysts for early coverage. There are so many hours of television that week. It’s going to be fun to be there, my second time now being part of a broadcast at a U.S. Open. I worked Chambers Bay in 2015 with Fox on their digital coverage.

Playing the golf course was wonderful preparation, to get to see the different shots from a player’s perspective. I will spend a lot of time early in the week talking to players, talking to caddies, coaches, getting their sense of the course, their sense of what they might be working on. Talk to a lot of people and get as much insight really as I can to share with our viewers.

The 10th hole of Los Angeles Country Club, North Course in the Los Angeles, Calif. on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)

I think a big piece of it is that the public doesn’t know the golf course, so really understanding the nuances and the different ways to play it is going to be a big part of preparation.

I always pay attention a little bit to the PGA Tour. It’s a little bit harder to watch on weeks when I’m working, but I’m a golf fan in general, so I somewhat always pay attention to what’s going on in the world of golf. But will definitely, starting from now on out, pay a good bit of attention to who’s trending in the right direction.

When you say part of the early coverage, what's your have-to-be-there time?

I have heard that on-air time is 6:40 a.m. That’s ready to go on-air at 6:40 a.m., all prep done. So it could be like a 3 a.m. wake-up call.

Who has your favorite swing in the men’s game?

Rory. I just love the effortless power that he generates. I could watch Rory’s driver swing on repeat. I, of course, think to (2021 U.S. Women’s Open champion) Yuka Saso, who modeled her swing watching YouTube videos of Rory McIlroy. There’s pretty much not a better one to try to emulate for any kids out there.

Switching gears to the Women’s Open, I know you’ve played Pebble Beach many times, but Media Day was the first time in a long time, and it was a brute. What was your impression?

The seventh Hole of Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)

It was so hard. It was such a hard day to play. If we have one day like that, I guess we could have four days, I think that would be a little bit more unusual, it is going to be an absolute grind. The U.S. Open is supposed to be a grind … that’s what it’s designed for, to test every aspect of your game and then some … that was some of the toughest conditions – cold, windy in that direction – you’re going to have on the outward nine and it feels like every hole is into the wind.

But that’s also what makes it fun, you can be creative with your shot-making, which I think Pebble would anyway with its small greens and tough green complexes, and the ability to have a good short game. I think it plays into the hands of a more creative player. We could have four different winds. … It could totally change from one day to the next, much like a British Open in that respect. Sometimes it can play like you’ve never seen the course before.

What was it like when you played No. 7 that day, how strong was it?

What was it that day, 99 yards, and I hit a little 8-iron. Probably could’ve hit a 6-iron if I wanted to. It’s all about the type of shot you choose to hit. You can’t hit a stock shot when the weather is that way. You have to manipulate it in some fashion, and I think it will really help to recognize the best player that week.

If you are an amateur who has just qualified through sectionals, and you’re playing in your first Open at Pebble, what’s your advice on how they can prepare?

First, what an accomplishment and what a place to make your Open debut. I would sign up for practice rounds with all of the people you looked up to and always wanted to play with if those spots are available. Try to get in those and soak up as much of the information and pay attention to how they prepare and how they practice.

I think that’s a big difference between amateur and professional golf is the preparation that goes on. If you do have dreams of one day playing professional golf, I think it’s so helpful to watch how the best players in the world prepare for, in my opinion, the most important week of the year.

What might surprise some of them is the amount of rest that professionals also try to get, especially in a major week because it is going to be so grueling and so tiring. I always loved to go in advance to play the golf course so I had a sense of what I was looking at come tournament week, and then it was really about dialing in those specific conditions and green speeds that week and prioritizing rest.

Morgan Pressel and Mina Harigae during the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open Preview Day in the Pebble Beach, Calif. on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. (Copyright USGA/Jed Jacobsohn)

I think practice rounds are going to be insanely long, with the views and the pictures and Pebble in general. More so than a typical six-hour U.S. Open practice round.

Spend a lot of time getting to meet your idols, players who you’ve always looked up to. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself or go say hi in a locker room.

What a contrast from LACC, a course most people have never seen, to a course people are most familiar with …

The U.S. Women’s Open Trophy as seen on the 18th hole of Pebble Beach Golf Links
in Pebble Beach, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. (Copyright USGA/Kip Evans)

Pebble Beach is truly a household name … maybe a bigger name than almost anybody to ever play the game, which is crazy when you think about it. Even non-golfers really know Pebble Beach. That’s why playing the U.S. Open on that big of a stage is so important.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek