Tuesday - News Notes

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FARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Many players werent privy to the Black Course prior to arriving to Bethpage State Park this week. But after a couple of practice rounds under their belts, they are now fully cognizant of their opponent.
 
This is the hardest golf course Ive ever played, said Davis Love III, who is making his 14th U.S. Open appearance this week.
 
Nothing is tougher, said Brad Faxon.
 
If the wind blows, its almost going to be impossible, said Chris DiMarco.
 
But while players agree the 7,214-yard par-70 layout ' the longest in U.S. Open history ' is a beast, they also agree its a beauty.
 
I love this course, said Stewart Cink, who finished a heartbreaking third in last years Open at Southern Hills.
 
Best course Ive played, said 15-year tour veteran Billy Andrade.
 
I asked David Duval, I said, Is this the best U.S. Open greens weve ever seen? He said, They are the best greens Ive ever seen anywhere, recanted Love.
 

Fleisher, a Disappointment
 
Bruce Fleisher opted not to compete this week, an honor awarded to him after winning last years U.S. Senior Open. He said last week he felt he could not be competitive and that the course was too much.
 
Tuesday, a pair of Fleishers Senior PGA Tour colleagues who are participating in the U.S. Open responded to his decision.
 
I think everybody is kind of disappointed in that, said Tom Kite, who earned a spot in the 156-man field by finishing tied for fifth last year. I think he had a great opportunity to represent the Senior Tour, and to be honest, I think when you win the Senior Open you have an obligation to go to the U.S. Open.
 
I think everybody on the Senior Tour was surprised and disappointed at Bruces decision.
 
Added three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin, who is in this week on a special exemption: I think he let a lot of people down. Most of the seniors would give their right leg to play in this event as the Senior Open champion. I think anybody who qualifies to play and decides not to play it really missing out on something.
 

Eight is Enough?
 
DiMarco is among the many players this week deciding which 14 clubs to keep in his bag. But the club he may exclude might surprise you.
 
I am trying to figure out if Im going to take my 8- or my 9-iron out. One of those two are coming out, because you dont need one of those two clubs, he said. I havent hit a 9-iron or a wedge in three days (of practice). Im putting a 2-iron and a 5-wood in.
 

The Numbers Game
 
It is often said that you must drive the ball in play to win the U.S. Open. But since the PGA Tour started keeping tournament records in 1980, the player who led the U.S. Open field in driving accuracy has not won an Open title. Only one player who led in driving distance (Tiger Woods, 2000) has won and only two players (Tom Watson, 1982, Curtis Strange, 1988) won who led in putting.
 
On the other hand, seven players who led the Open in greens hit in regulation won the title, most recently Woods in 2000.
 
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