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Golf Notes June 4

Except for 1994 when he was recovering from cancer, Paul Azinger has played in every U.S. Open since 1985. That streak will end this year. Azinger isn't exempt, and he had no interest in even trying.

Attribute some of that to the controversial setup last year at Bethpage Black.

``I'm not playing, not after last year,'' Azinger said. ``I don't have any idea what Olympia Fields is like, and I don't care. I'm not exempt, and I'm not going to qualify.''

Most of the criticism about Bethpage Black centered on Nos. 10 and 12, which required 260-yard carries. In a windy, rainy second round, several players could not reach the 10th fairway with their best drives.

Azinger said he was asked how he would feel if the U.S. Open returned to Bethpage Black every five years.

``I would probably take every fifth year off,'' he said.

The other reason for not going through U.S. Open qualifying was his game. Azinger, who has faded the ball his entire career, started hooking the ball last summer and only recently corrected the flaw.

``I was still hooking it when the (U.S. Open) entry thing was there,'' he said.

PROVING HIS POINT: Jeff Maggert only has two PGA Tour victories, but he is a perennial contender in the U.S. Open, with six top 10s in the last nine years.

He attributes that to Shinnecock Hills -- a missed cut in 1986, a tie for fourth in 1995.

``My first professional tournament was the '86 U.S. Open. The weather was horrendous and I shot a ton,'' Maggert said. ``I felt so inadequate, I didn't know if I could ever compete in another U.S. Open.''

He missed the cut at The Olympic Club the next year, then didn't qualify for another U.S. Open until 1993. When he returned to Shinnecock in 1995, Maggert lurked behind the leaders Sunday afternoon and tied for fourth.

``To me, that was the first step,'' he said.

SAY AGAIN: Se Ri Pak learned early in her career that speaking English on the LPGA Tour would be as important as hitting fairways and greens.

She had a translator her rookie year in 1998 when she won two majors, then went without the next couple of years and struggled.

``I would say some things and you guys would think I'm silly,'' she said.

Still, she insisted on getting by on her own, and she has become more charming every year. Her play has improved, and Pak sees a connection.

``I have to take care of myself on my own, and learning English was good,'' she said. ``Whenever I go anywhere, it feels like more confidence. I started speaking English, and this made a big difference and helped my game. Golf is so sensitive. You let little things bother you, then you might not play good.''

A DANGEROUS GAME: Hobbies are taking a toll on Lee Janzen. He rolled his ankle playing baseball at his son's school, and most recently injured his ribs playing pingpong.

How can you get hurt at pingpong?

``Playing doubles, going across the table and trying to run around for my forehand,'' Janzen said. ``We have tile on our back porch. I just tripped. I gave up my body and hit the winner.''

Janzen crashed into a large candle holder that gave him a deep bruise. He also broke glass that caused a gash in his elbow, and his knees swelled slightly.

He is playing through his injuries, and has learned his lessons.

``I'm just going to be very cautious the rest of the year with what I do,'' he said.

DIVOTS: Tony Jacklin, who started Europe's dominance of the Ryder Cup, will be captain of the Rest of the World team in the UBS Cup at Sea Island, Ga., in late November. In matches for players 40 and older, the U.S. team has won the first two years under Arnold Palmer. ... Katherine Hull, an All-American at Pepperdine, won in her professional debut last week on the Futures Tour. ... The Palmer Cup matches are expanding to include college players from Europe instead of just Britain and Ireland. They will take on U.S. college players at Kiawah Island (Classique Golf Club) from July 7-11. The event also signed Monster Worldwide Inc. as a sponsor.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Only 20 players finished the Memorial under par. The only other tournament this year with fewer players under par was the Masters (eight).

FINAL WORD: ``The thing most unfair was that Tiger shot under par and nobody else could do that.'' -- Lee Janzen, on the U.S. Open setup last year at Bethpage Black.


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