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U.S. OPEN NOTES

Is It 2004 or 1995? Pavin Back in Hunt

June 19, 2004|Chris Dufresne and Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writers

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — There is apparently nothing wrong with Corey Pavin's golf swing that Shinnecock Hills can't fix.

Unfortunately, this is a private course and there have been only four majors staged here since 1896.

Pavin, whose career has gone into a downslide since winning the U.S. Open here in 1995, has slipped right back into his feel-groove mode.

Pavin finished up his first round Friday morning at three-under 67 and followed that with one-over 71 in Round 2.

He stands at two-under 138 after 36 holes and is still in contention -- only four shots behind 36-hole co-leaders Phil Mickelson and Shigeki Maruyama.

Pavin hasn't won on the PGA Tour since 1996 and missed four of his last six cuts before arriving at Shinnecock.

"I think it always helps when you come back to a course that you've played well," Pavin said. "But I've been working on my game and maybe something's coming around a little bit."

Pavin said he almost forgot what it felt like to play so well. The people here remember, though.

"I was introduced on the first tee yesterday and it was tough," Pavin said. "I had to gather myself and hit it. It was a wonderful reception everyone gave me. Sometimes you have to be very aware of what's going on around you."

*

Tiger Woods didn't get off to a good start when he bogeyed his first hole of the day, but the start wasn't any better for New York Daily News photographer John Roca.

His camera mounted on a monopod, Roca shot photographs of Woods taking practice swings at the 10th tee before play began. Steve Williams, Woods' caddie, walked over to where Roca was kneeling and kicked Roca's camera lens.

"I couldn't believe it," Roca said. "He didn't say a word, just walked over and kicked my lens."

According to Marty Parkes of the USGA, photographers are permitted to shoot practice swings in the teeing area, but only if they do not disturb the players.

Williams had a run-in with a fan at the 2002 Skins Game. After the fan snapped a picture of Woods swinging, Williams took the camera and threw it into the lake at the 18th hole. Woods was fined an undisclosed amount for that incident.

*

Vijay Singh, who hit only two fairways in the first round and five in the second, is nevertheless two under par after rounds of 70-68.

Despite his problems finding the fairway, Singh says he's happy with his game and hoping for more wind.

"If you're playing badly, it's not going to favor you at all," he said. "I'm playing well. I'm hitting the ball nicely."

*

Among the notables who missed the weekend cut, which fell at five over par: Justin Leonard, Rich Beem, Darren Clarke, Davis Love III, Fred Couples.

David Duval, making his comeback here after months of poor play and a self-imposed layoff, finished 25 over after rounds of 83 and 82.

Duval, however, did not finish last in the 155-player field.

That distinction went to David Carr, who shot 83-83-166.

Meanwhile, defending U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, playing his first tournament in six months, shot two rounds of 72 and made the cut.

Furyk had been bothered by a sore left wrist for almost year and had surgery March 22.

*

Bunkers are usually full of sand, but at Shinnecock, some of them have small stones as well.

Mike Weir had a problem on the sixth hole, where he made a double bogey after hitting his drive left, into a bunker, and then squirted the ball left when he also hit a stone under the ball.

At the par-five 16th, Weir was in another bunker and found another rock. This time, his fortunes improved. The ball came out along with a rock, but the ball stopped 15 feet from the hole and Weir made the putt for a birdie on his way to a 70.

"The stone came flying out of there," Weir said. "I made that putt, but you can't predict that. It's so crunchy underneath [in the bunkers] with tons of little pebbles and sand and rocks underneath."

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