Renovated Ocean Course Greets World Cup

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KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard represent the United States as the World Golf Championships-World Cup returns to American soil this week on the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
 
But the Americans are quick to say there is no home course advantage.
 
Before this week, Furyk had never played the wind-swept course that fronts the beach and hosted the Ryder Cup back in 1991.
 
Leonard played here in 1997, the last time the World Cup was held in the United States, when the Irish team of Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley won on the same Ocean Course. Leonard has played the course perhaps 10 times in all.
 
'I don't know that that's quite a home course,' Furyk said. 'For me, I think it's a severe golf course. I think it takes some rounds to get used to. I think as the week goes on, we'll get a lot more comfortable with the golf course.'
 
Harrington and McGinley are back representing the Irish this week at the $4 million event - the winning team shares $1.4 million - which features two-man teams from 24 countries playing foursomes and four-ball.
 
'It's nice to come back to a course we won on before,' said McGinley. 'I think it will be tougher than last time. I think we're playing a lot more of the back tees.'
 
'We played 18 holes yesterday and we spent a good bit of time discussing the shots we hit in the last tournament while we were here,' Harrington said. 'Sometimes our perceptions weren't quite the same as the other guy's.'
 
The Japanese team of Shigeki Maruyama and Hidemichi Tanaka will be working to defend the World Cup crown they won 11 months ago in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
 
Before this year's World Cup, Dye made some changes to the par 72, 7,296-yard layout.
 
He moved the 18th green about 40 yards closer to the ocean. And a new salt-tolerant grass allows the greens to be cut shorter and play faster.
 
'I didn't notice as big a difference in 18 as I expected,' Leonard said. 'I can't say how much the green has been moved, but it wasn't as drastic as I thought it would be.'
 
Conditions for Wednesday's practice round were ideal, with temperatures in the high 70s and relatively light winds of 10 to 12 mph. That's expected to change with brisker winds and cooler weather later in the week.
 
'Cooler for you is not cooler for us. I think the wind is going to be a factor,' said McGinley of the Irish team. 'In '97 we didn't have much of a breeze - 10 to 15 mph breeze. The forecast is stronger this week. You'll see a lot of guys hitting good shots in and rolling off greens.'
 
'It's going to be a fantastic challenge this week,' said Paul Casey who, along with Justin Rose, represents England. 'If the wind blows, it's going to be a brutal golf course. It's one which will bring out the better teams.'
 
'We like to see the wind,' said Stuart Appleby who, with Stephen Leaney is on the Australian team. 'We would like to see firm, fast - fastish conditions ... I don't know, 20, 25 mph might be too much' wind.
 
The format on Thursday and Saturday is four-ball. On Friday and Sunday, it's foursomes.
 
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