Welcome to Oakmont - and let the bogeys begin

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Sergio Garcia checked the church pew sand trap on the fourth fairway during his practice round Tuesday for the 107th U.S. Open Golf Championship at the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. (Charles Krupa ~ Associated Press)

The course's slick greens and long rough create headaches.

OAKMONT, Pa. -- They've heard the horror stories about Oakmont, now they're experiencing them up close. The bunkers that look like they could swallow a football field, the greens where a putt even slightly off line might roll all the way to Pittsburgh.

It's been 13 years since the U.S. Open last visited Oakmont, home of the most fearsome greens in American championship golf. That's plenty of time for the field to have changed considerably -- Arnold Palmer was still playing Opens and Tiger Woods was an amateur back in 1994 -- and for new myths to be created for golfers who have yet to tread 7,200 of the sport's scariest yards.

"It is stifling difficult, to the point of walking off and feeling like you've gone 12 rounds with Ali," Paul Goydos said Monday.

Johnny Miller's advice to all these Oakmont newbies: Believe the stories. Beware of Oakmont.

"Only a couple of guys broke 70 in the whole [2003] U.S. Amateur at Oakmont," said Miller, the 1973 U.S. Open winner at Oakmont. "They know it's going to be a good test. ... There's some brutal holes out there."

Among the major topics of discussion as the field arrives at Oakmont is the length of the rough, which Oakmont superintendent John Zimmers insists has been cut -- he just didn't say if it was last week or last year. Jim Furyk, playing a practice round Monday with Tiger Woods, can't recall seeing rough so threateningly high or thick during a major.

Woods, who has yet to play a competitive round at Oakmont, had problems of his own during his unsatisfying tour of Oakmont's hilly terrain. He grumbled about his driver during a round that he wouldn't describe afterward, except to say, "I broke 100."

Just another day at Oakmont Country Club, where one-third of the few hundred members are good enough to have handicaps below 10. Not many duffers here, and they delight in watching the sport's biggest names be frustrated every decade or so by their home course, one that can be set up with such difficulty that par becomes an impossibility.

When the record eighth U.S. Open at Oakmont starts Thursday, Miller wonders if some in the field will get off to a start so bad they never recover their confidence or their game.

No. 1, a 482-yard par 4, will be the starting hole for half the field, and Miller calls it "the hardest first hole in the world" -- mostly because of the treacherous slope of the green.

"There's no hole with a second shot like that," Miller said. "If you miss a fairway and leave it short on the downslope, you can't hardly hit the green with a 40-yard wedge shot. That's just the most brutal starting hole of any course in the world."


U.S. OPEN TEE TIMES

Thursday through Sunday; At Oakmont Country Club; Oakmont, Pa.; (a-amateur)

Thursday-Friday

First Hole-10th Hole

6 a.m.-11:30 a.m. -- Ken Duke, Sam Walker, Johnson Wagner

6:11 a.m.-11:41 a.m. -- Craig Kanada, Jon Mills, Tom Gillis

6:22 a.m.-11:52 a.m. -- Allen Doyle, Olin Browne, Tom Byrum

6:33 a.m.-12:03 p.m. -- Nick Dougherty, a-Trip Kuehne, Ricky Barnes

6:44 a.m-12:14 p.m. -- Ryuji Imada, Vaughn Taylor, Michael Campbell

6:55 a.m.-12:25 p.m. -- Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Pablo Martin.

7:06 a.m.-12:36 p.m. -- Tiger Woods, a-Richie Ramsay, Geoff Ogilvy

7:17 a.m.-12:47 p.m. -- Justin Leonard, Rory Sabbatini, Jerry Kelly

7:28 a.m.-12:58 p.m. -- Retief Goosen, Luke Donald, Angel Cabrera

7:39 a.m.-1:09 p.m. -- Bob Estes, Johan Edfors, Ryan Palmer

7:50 a.m.-1:20 p.m. -- Woody Austin, Mathew Goggin, Pat Perez

8:01 a.m.-1:31 p.m. -- Jason Allen, Mike Small, Geoffrey Sisk

8:12 a.m.-1:42 p.m. -- Michael Berg, a-Jason Kokrak, Kyle Dobbs

Thursday-Friday

10th Hole-First Hole

6 a.m.-11:30 a.m. -- Michael Putnam, a-Rhys Davies, Lee Williams

6:11 a.m.-11:41 a.m. -- Boo Weekley, Nobuhiro Masuda, Bubba Watson

6:22 a.m.-11:52 a.m. -- a-John Kelly, Graeme McDowell, Kirk Triplett

6:33 a.m.-12:03 p.m. -- Colin Montgomerie, Chris DiMarco, Tim Clark

6:44 a.m.-12:14 p.m. -- Ernie Els, Zach Johnson, Padraig Harrington

6:55 a.m.-12:25 p.m. -- Thomas Bjorn, Ben Curtis, Stephen Ames

7:06 a.m.-12:36 p.m. -- K.J. Choi, David Toms, Mike Weir

7:17 a.m.-12:47 p.m. -- Stuart Appleby, Scott Verplank, Robert Allenby

7:28 a.m.-12:58 p.m. -- Todd Hamilton, John Rollins, Anders Hansen

7:39 a.m.-1:09 p.m. -- Niclas Fasth, Arron Oberholser, Nathan Green

7:50 a.m.-1:20 p.m. -- Nick Watney, Peter Hanson, Harrison Frazar

8:01 a.m.-1:31 p.m. -- a-Phillip Pettitt Jr., Warren Pineo, John Koskinen

8:12 a.m.-1:42 p.m. -- Andy Matthews, a-Jeff Golden, Michael Block

8:12 a.m.-1:42 p.m. -- a-Alex Coe, Brad Fritsch, Benjamin Hayes

Thursday-Friday

First Hole-10th Hole

11:30 a.m.-6 a.m. -- Jeff Brehaut, Andrew Buckle, Darron Stiles

11:41 a.m.-6:11 a.m. -- Martin Laird, a-Alex Prugh, Todd Fischer

11:52 a.m.-6:22 a.m. -- Joe Durant, Steve Stricker, Joey Sindelar

12:03 p.m.-6:33 a.m. -- Trevor Immlman, Stewart Cink, Paul Casey

12:14 p.m.-6:44 a.m. -- Vijay Singh, Davis Love III, Henrik Stenson

12:25 p.m.-6:55 a.m. -- Jeff Sluman, Fred Funk, Toru Taniguchi

12:36 p.m.-7:06 a.m. -- Camilo Villegas, Lucas Glover, Aaron Baddeley

12:47 p.m.-7:17 a.m. -- David Howell, J.J. Henry, Rod Pampling

12:58 p.m.-7:28 a.m. -- Lee Westwood, Chad Campbell, Carl Pettersson

1:09 p.m.-7:39 a.m. -- Brett Quigley, Anthony Wall, Hunter Mahan

1:20 p.m.-7:50 a.m. -- Kevin Sutherland, Soren Kjeldsen, Eric Axley

1:31 p.m.-8:01 a.m. -- Joe Daley, a-Martin Ureta, Miguel Rodriguez

1:42 p.m.-8:12 a.m. -- a-Chris Condello, Adam Speirs, Jacob Rogers

Thursday-Friday

10th Hole-First Hole

11:30 a.m.-6 a.m. -- Jason Dufner, Darren Fichardt, Chris Stroud

11:41 a.m.-6:11 a.m. -- Brandt Snedeker, Christian Cevaer, Stephen Marino

12:52 a.m.-6:22 a.m. -- Shaun Micheel, Charl Schwartzel, Tom Pernice Jr.

12:03 p.m.-6:33 a.m. -- Nick O'Hern, Brett Wetterich, Robert Karlsson

12:14 p.m.-6:44 a.m. -- Kaname Yokoo, Paul Goydos, Kenneth Ferrie

12:25 p.m.-6:55 a.m. -- Ian Poulter, Ryan Moore, Shingo Katayama

12:36 p.m.-7:06 a.m. -- Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk

12:47 p.m.-7:17 a.m. -- Lee Janzen, Steve Elkington, Rich Beem

12:58 p.m. -7:28 a.m. -- Charles Howell III, Justin Rose, Sean O'Hair

1:09 p.m.-7:39 a.m. -- Anthony Kim, Jeev Milkha Singh, Dean Wilson

1:20 p.m.-7:50 a.m. -- Tim Petrovic, Marcus Fraser, Tripp Isenhour

1:31 p.m.-8:01 a.m. -- D.J. Brigman, a-Richard Lee, George McNeill

1:42 p.m.-8:12 a.m. -- Frank Bensel, Todd Rossetti, a-Mark Harrell

1:42 p.m.-8:12 a.m. -- Andy Bare, Dustin White, a-Ryan Baca

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