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Woods checks out US Open venue

Tiger Woods began his preparations for the U.S. Open on Tuesday, playing the Black Course at Bethpage State Park with Mark O'Meara.

O'Meara said the course would favor power hitters because of its record length, a par 70 at 7,214 yards. He also placed importance on accuracy and good course management, needed at most U.S. Opens.

``The greens are flat and generous in size, but that doesn't mean it makes it any easier,'' O'Meara said. ``If the golf course is fast and the wind blows, only a couple of guys will be under par. If it's soft and the wind doesn't blow, I still think there's only going to be a couple of guys under par.

``I don't think we're going to light it up.''

The U.S. Open will be played June 13-16 at Bethpage, the first time it has gone to a true public golf course. Anyone can play the Black Course for $31 during the week, $39 on the weekends.

Woods decided not to play the Kemper Open this week so he could rest and be ready for the U.S. Open, where a victory would make him the first player in 30 years to win the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year.

He doesn't plan to play the Buick Classic next week, either, giving him two weeks off before the Open. Woods has won three of the seven majors he has played when taking a two-week break.

The Black Course is not only the longest in U.S. Open history -- by a yard over Congressional in 1997 -- its 499-yard 12th hole is the longest ever for a par 4. O'Meara said Woods reached the green with a driver and a 4-iron.

``I didn't even reach the fairway,'' O'Meara said.

He also said only one of the two par 5s was reachable, the 517-yard fourth hole that features a blind shot to an elevated green. Woods reached with a 4-iron.

``It's pretty black-and-white,'' said O'Meara, the '98 Masters and British Open champion. ``If you're not driving it well, you're not going to be around very long.''


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