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U.S. OPEN NOTES

Early Returns Different for Duval, Furyk

June 18, 2004|Thomas Bonk and Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writers

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — He didn't make a par after the eighth hole, he made bogey or worse his last seven holes and he shot a 13-over-par 83, but David Duval was far from dissatisfied with his opening round at the U.S. Open.

"I would call it an enormous victory for me today," said Duval, who is playing his first tournament since November.

Duval made a birdie at the first hole and another at the 12th, but he also had nine bogeys and three double bogeys. It didn't matter to him.

"Most definitely I had a good time," he said. "I enjoyed myself today. I really felt good about all the good shots I hit, didn't feel too bad about some of the bad ones I hit.

"It goes without saying I'm not tournament ready. Then add the U.S. Open golf course in the mix, and that adds some shots to the score. How many, I'm not sure."

Meanwhile, Jim Furyk wasn't tournament ready either, but the defending U.S. Open champion played his first round since January after wrist surgery and held up well with a two-over 72.

"I definitely have some rust out there," he said. "I'm fine, health-wise, there's no problem. I hit it in the rough my share, so the wrist held up good. It actually felt better than it had all week. I am assuming that's probably a little adrenaline because I'm excited about playing."

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More on Duval's 83: Some have questioned why Duval would pick the U.S. Open to make his comeback, but Tiger Woods says it makes perfect sense.

"He's probably doing the right thing in a weird way," Woods said. "Yeah, he's coming back to a U.S. Open that's going to be tough, but if he were to come back at another tournament he would have been the story line the entire week, but because there's so many story lines he's flying under the radar and it's easier for him to come out and compete and play, and that relieves pressure on him."

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Baggage claim: The nice thing about the two-under 68 Kevin Stadler shot Thursday was that he was able to use his own clubs.

Stadler arrived in New York last week only to discover his golf clubs had not arrived with him.

Which airline?

"I'd rather not say," Stadler said.

Luckily, the airline eventually located his clubs and they were returned to Stadler on Saturday.

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Paraguay's Carlos Franco, citing allergy problems, withdrew after playing the 14th hole.

Franco said the dust kicked up by spectators triggered his allergy attack.

"My eyes are very red," Franco said. "I can't play. I can't focus on the ball. I can't focus on the swing."

Another reason Franco may have called it quits: He was nine over par.

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You talk about focus: On the first shot he hit after a weather delay of more than two hours, 19-year-old amateur Spencer Levin scored a hole in one on the 179-yard 17th hole.

Levin used an eight-iron.

"That was my first ace, so that was a good time for it," Levin said.

He shot one-under 69.

Levin, playing in his first U.S. Open, helped lead UCLA to the Pac-10 championship in 2002-03 before transferring to New Mexico.

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Scott Hoch is no fan of Shinnecock Hills. Hoch shot a 75 and didn't have anything good to say about the course.

"It's certainly my least favorite of all the Open courses I've played," he said. "This fits in with all the other British Open courses I don't like."

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There is a chance that Woods, who has been ranked No. 1 for 253 consecutive weeks, will drop from the top spot at the U.S. Open.

Ernie Els will replace Woods if Els wins and Woods finishes lower than sixth. Vijay Singh will be No. 1 if he wins and Woods misses the cut, which would be the first time that has happened in six years.

Woods has been No. 1 for 323 weeks; the record is 331 by Greg Norman. Woods could break the record after the PGA Championship.

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Business update: Els has signed with IMG and agent Peter Malik, who also represents Mark O'Meara.

Also, Casey Wittenberg, 19, the runner-up in the U.S. Amateur who tied for 13th at the Masters, is turning pro after the U.S. Open.

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