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Inside the ropes

Scott a little banged up but ready to go

June 12, 2008|Mike James | Times Staff Writer

LA JOLLA -- The third member of today's celebrated MASH unit played an abbreviated practice round Wednesday, left the course without heading to the range to bang balls and, despite a broken finger, apparently will join the only two players in the world ranked higher than he is early this morning.

Adam Scott, the Australian with model good looks who is the No. 3 player in the world, will tee off with No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 2 Phil Mickelson at 8:06 a.m. None of the three have been at 100% this week. All say they'll be ready to go.

Woods hasn't played competitively since the Masters because of knee surgery; Mickelson didn't practice early in the week because of an undisclosed intestinal problem.

And Scott, who hasn't played since finishing tied for 54th at the Players in early May, broke the knuckle at the base of his right pinkie three weeks ago when he slammed it in a car door.

Their caddies might want to replace the rain gear in their golf bags with mini-MRI machines.

Butch Harmon, who coaches Scott and Mickelson along with Ernie Els, walked the course with Scott early Wednesday morning.

Scott played with Soren Hansen of Denmark and Rocco Mediate, each of them dressed head to toe in black, as was Harmon until he shed his jacket. But Harmon's tone was anything but dark.

"Adam played well," Harmon said. "He didn't hit balls afterward because his hand swells up when he plays. But he's playing really well, and I'm very happy with how he's swinging.

"There's no pain, and he could hit all the shots. He's really looking forward to playing."

Harmon had some concern about Scott playing shots from the deep, thick rough, and the strain that might put on the hand. But he wasn't overly worried:

"He drives the ball so well, it really shouldn't be a problem."

Viewing options

You can follow the pack and gear your day toward the aforementioned glamour grouping of the ages, or you can pick your spots among the other 153 golfers in the field and probably even get the opportunity to see them play.

Here's a look at some of the other groups that on any other day could draw a crowd and are worth a look:

8:50 a.m. start, No. 1: Anthony Kim, Andres Romero and Ryuji Imada. Kim, who grew up in Southern California and won for the first time at the Wachovia in early May, is a brash rising star who bangs the ball farther than a 5-foot-10, 160-pound, 22-year-old should be able to.

12:52 p.m., No. 1: Vijay Singh-Sergio Garcia-Stewart Cink. Garcia won the Players; could this be his year in a major? This is the first of four high-profile groups in less than an hour off the first tee.

1:03 p.m., No. 1: Trevor Immelman-Zach Johnson-Mike Weir. Three Masters champions; that's a lot of green jackets.

1:14 p.m., No. 1: Retief Goosen-Scott Verplank-Aaron Baddeley. Goosen has a couple of U.S. Open championships.

1:47 p.m., No. 1: Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes, Brett Wetterich. If you like the long ball, you'll love this group.

For sale

The merchandise tent that sprouts from the deep rough to the right of the first fairway is about the size of a small college basketball arena. There's enough room to park the Goodyear blimp or hold a Hannah Montana concert.

It's 39,000 square feet, larger by 3,000 square feet than the most recent Open merchandise pavilions.

Which means there's about anything you could want with a U.S. Open at Torrey Pines logo: shirts, caps, accessories, sweatshirts and much more . . . including:

Oversized inflatable rubber golf balls, $15.

Silver U.S. Open money clips, $125.

U.S. Open flip-flops, $45.

U.S. Open pewter plate, $59.

Print on canvas of the third green, $795 unframed. The frame is another $600.

Chip shots

Jim Hyler, chairman of the USGA competition committee, said the course would not be played from the full 7,643 yards most days because of alternate tee positions on several holes that could reduce the length significantly. He also defended the new tee stretching the par-five 13th hole from 540 to 614 yards, though it will be used perhaps only one day. Mickelson on Tuesday called the new tee "terrible," and "the biggest waste of money that I've ever seen." Said Hyler: "We certainly have a lot of respect for Phil's comments. However, on this one, I think we'll agree to disagree."

Sean O'Hair withdrew from the tournament because of a pulled chest muscle. Gary Wolstenholme of England, a 47-year-old career amateur, will take his place.

--

mike.james@latimes.com

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