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PGA Tour: US Open

Nothing but praise for Pinehurst set up

Vijay Singh wasn't stomping around Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday afternoon looking for a USGA official.

Ernie Els wasn't so mad he was almost speechless.

In a shocking turn of events, a U.S. Open had been contested and no players were bellowing about how they had been treated unfairly in their attempt to win the $1,170,000 first prize and the Open title.

"I thought it was a great Open," Sergio Garcia said. "It's a really difficult course, but it was well set up. Maybe, today, a couple of mistakes they might have made. But, it was well set up all week long. It was really nice."

After last year's final-day disaster at Shinnecock, when the USGA staff allowed the course too get to firm and fast, and some holes bordered on unplayable, the players in this year's field got a week's worth of southern hospitality.

"The USGA and everyone should be happy about the play for four straight days," two-time Open champion Lee Janzen said. "The greens played as consistently as I've seen them play in any U.S. Open I've ever played. It was very fair and very challenging."

For the week, the course played to a 74.166 average. On Sunday, No. 2 was at its toughest. The field could do no better than 74.257.

The players' concerns revolved around being able to hit the narrow fairways, avoiding the gnarly 3-inch rough. And, if that was accomplished, players then faced the difficulty of trying to hit Donald Ross crowned greens and keeping their shots on the surfaces.

Final figures show that players could only hit 49.8 percent of the greens in regulation. And they could keep drives in the fairways only 51.6 percent of the time.

"It's one of the most difficult courses I've seen, because of the pin locations and the greens," Tiger Woods said. "I'd like to see it the next time it's played here."

One of the few dissenting opinions on how the course was set up came from Matt Every, a senior-to-be at the University of Florida.

"It's a good course," said Every, who finished the tournament as the low amateur at 11-over par. "Most of the time, it doesn't reward good shots. I mean, I've seen so many good shots this week right at it, just the slightest kick to the left or to the right, and you're done. But I like how you had to hit it in the fairway, or you got penalized. I thought that was great. It tests all areas of the game."

Stewart Cink played in his 10th Open and finished in a tie for 15th.

"I think it's a great course," Cink said. "I don't see why the U.S. Open wasn't here for all those years, anyway. It's an unbelievable test. They don't have to make it extremely tricked up to challenge everybody. Obviously, look at the scoring. The greens are not the hardest and fastest we've seen. There's no rough around the greens. I'm glad I don't have to play here for another five or six or whatever years, because this place leaves you mentally worn out. I'm glad to get in with my round today and head for home."

And that's some pretty high praise from a bunch of guys who let everybody know in a big hurry if something's not suitable to them.


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