Far Hills, N.J. (March 25) – The United States Golf Association and World Golf Tour (WGT) announced today that they have formed an agreement to host the first Virtual U.S. Open Championship on www.USOPEN.com.
Developed in partnership with Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y., the Virtual U.S. Open will take place on a state-of-the-art simulation of the Black Course at Bethpage, allowing golf enthusiasts everywhere to play an online golf championship from their computers at no cost, at the same time and on virtually the same course as the actual U.S. Open competitors in June.
Visitors to www.USOPEN.com, the official Web site of the U.S. Open, can play qualifying rounds for the Virtual U.S. Open, beginning May 25 through June 21. The top 156 qualifiers plus ties will then square off for the Virtual U.S. Open title on June 22. The winner will be crowned the USGA Virtual U.S. Open Champion and will be a guest of the USGA at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.
A closest-to-the-hole challenge on WGT's virtual Bethpage Black will be available starting April 13 on www.USOPEN.com for players to test their skills, before the Virtual U.S. Open qualifying rounds begin.
"This is a unique opportunity for fans to experience a very realistic online representation of the Black Course at Bethpage State Park," said Alex Withers, USGA managing director of Digital Media. "We are thrilled to be able to bring this product to golf fans around the world and to be working with World Golf Tour on this exciting project."
WGT has utilized its patented technology to bring Bethpage Black to life online. First, nearly 100,000 high-definition images were taken of the course from the ground and with helicopters using precisely mapped GPS coordinates. These images and additional data collected from the course were then translated through WGT's proprietary physics engine to enable players to virtually experience Bethpage Black within a photo landscape. Championship tees and hole locations, U.S. Open-quality rough and accurate green contours and speeds all combine to make this the most realistic championship golf experience ever offered online.
"Through WGT's association with the USGA, fans now have the opportunity to get more involved in one of golf's four major championships," said YuChiang Cheng, CEO of World Golf Tour. "This opportunity is a strong step forward in demonstrating the ability of WGT's platform to integrate live events with an online experience. We are honored to be working with the USGA to bring players the Virtual U.S. Open, with some of the pressure and elation that the real competitors feel."