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This week in golf

Teeing Off

June 14, 2007|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

OAKMONT, PA. — Five things to keep an eye on this weekend on the pro golf scene:

1. Remember Geoff Ogilvy? He is the defending U.S. Open champion, the last guy standing on the 72nd hole a year ago at Winged Foot, where Colin Montgomerie's best chance disappeared in the rough and Phil Mickelson sent his own opportunity bouncing off a hospitality tent and then a tree.

Ogilvy won when he chipped in for par at the 17th and made a terrifying six-footer for par at the last.

"It was obviously a really crazy way to win the golf tournament last year from everyone's perspective," he said.

Mickelson is continually reminded of his meltdown, and Ogilvy said it really is fair game.

"It's part of last year's tournament, that story," the Australian said, "so it's going to be talked about."

Meanwhile, Ogilvy probably should be talked about more than he is. No one has repeated as U.S. Open champion since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989. Some give Ogilvy at least a shot.

After last year's breakout victory at Winged Foot, Ogilvy gets a chance to see if he belongs in the one-shot wonder club -- like Steve Jones or Corey Pavin or Orville Moody -- or whether his status as a major champion is on a much higher plane.

Ogilvy has four top 10s this year, though he missed the cut last week at Memphis. He missed more than that when he played a practice round at Oakmont Country Club earlier last week. He shot 83 and lost two golf balls.

"It was hard," he said.

The setup for the Open could be even harder.

"If you put the pins on the high parts of the greens where you can't get anywhere near and with the rough like it is," he said, "it could be the hardest course in the world with no wind."

And, speaking of U.S. Open courses, the USGA announced that the 2014 Open will be played at Pinehurst. Next year's Open will be played at Torrey Pines South.

2. Memo to Zach Johnson. Five players have won the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year. And in 1953, Masters champion Ben Hogan won the Open at Oakmont. The others on the list are Craig Wood in 1941, Hogan in 1951, Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972 and Tiger Woods in 2002.

Johnson showed up Sunday to get ready for Oakmont. "I don't know if you can prepare that well for this golf course," he said, "but I'm prepared as well as I think you can get."

3. For the first time since the 1991 PGA Championship, there are no players in the U.S. Open field under 30 who have won a major. Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open champion, turned 30 in May.

Said 27-year-old major-less Sergio Garcia: "One of the reasons is because Tiger just turned 31, so that doesn't help."

4. Further proof that they're getting better faster: Alexis Thompson, 12, became the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open. Thompson, from Coral Springs, Fla., earned a spot into the 156-player field at sectional qualifying for the 2007 championship, which will be played June 28-July 1 at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C.

5. Thompson qualified at the age of 12 years 4 months 1 day. Morgan Pressel was 12 years 11 months 21 days old when she qualified for the 2001 Women's Open.

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FUTURE OPEN SITES

Future sites of the U.S. Open through 2014 (Includes previous U.S. Opens hosted and champions in parentheses):

* 2008: Torrey Pines Golf Club, South Course, La Jolla.

* 2009: Bethpage State Park, Black Course, Farmingdale, N.Y. (2002: Tiger Woods).

* 2010: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach (2000: Tiger Woods, 1992: Tom Kite, 1982: Tom Watson, 1972: Jack Nicklaus).

* 2011: Congressional Country Club, Blue Course, Bethesda, Md. (1997: Ernie Els, 1964: Ken Venturi).

* 2012: The Olympic Club, San Francisco (1998: Lee Janzen, 1987: Scott Simpson, 1966: Billy Casper, 1955: Jack Fleck).

* 2013: Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa. (1981: David Graham, 1971: Lee Trevino, 1950: Ben Hogan, 1934: Olin Dutra).

* 2014: Pinehurst Resort, No. 2 Course, Pinehurst, N.C. (1999: Payne Stewart, 2005: Michael Campbell).

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THIS WEEK

U.S. GOLF ASSN.

U.S. Open

* When: Today-Sunday.

* Where: Oakmont Country Club (7,230 yards, par 70), Oakmont, Pa.

* TV: ESPN (Today-Friday, 7 a.m.-noon, 2-4 p.m.; Monday, if necessary, 9-11 a.m.) and Ch. 4 (Today-Friday, noon-2 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Monday, if necessary, 11 a.m. to conclusion).

* 2006 winner: Australia's Geoff Ogilvy won at Winged Foot when Phil Mickelson made a double-bogey 6 on the final hole.

* Tee times: Day in Sports, D6

* Up next: The Travelers Championship is next week in Cromwell, Conn.

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Source: Associated Press

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STAT OF THE WEEK

* At the 1927 U.S. Open, the first at Oakmont, the average score was 78.6 and there were only three rounds under par. The other Opens at Oakmont, with average score and number of rounds under par: 1935 -- 80.55 and three; 1953 -- 77.12 and 20; 1962 -- 75.86 and 19; 1973 -- 75.45 and 40; 1983 -- 76.13 and 27; 1994 -- 74.25 and 62.

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