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Longer, tougher Pine Needles welcomes back U.S. Women's Open

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SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (AP) -- Plenty has changed since the last time the U-S Women's Open visited the sandhills of south-central North Carolina.

The course is 400 yards longer than it was for the Women's Open's last visit in 2001, with the 15th hole now 125 yards longer and par increased to 5.

The new Bermuda grass surface allows for bouncy fairways and treacherous rough, and it wouldn't be a Donald Ross creation without a set of challenging, topsy-turvy greens.

The best women's players in the world are back on the revamped track at Pine Needles. And with play set to begin today, the new-look course promised to test their abilities both to strike accurate shots and remain mentally sharp.

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