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Players predict difficult US Open at Torrey Pines

Masters champion Phil Mickelson and world number one Tiger Woods expect a daunting challenge when next year's U.S. Open is played on the South Course at Torrey Pines.

The two Americans took advantage of last week's Buick Invitational to get an early preview of the venue for the 2008 Open, the second major of the season.

The par-72 South Course was one of two layouts which hosted the fourth event on the 2007 PGA Tour.

"The golf course is very difficult to play and every shot is critical and penalising," left-hander Mickelson told reporters after tying for 51st at the Buick Invitational.

"In my opinion, it's one of the hardest golf courses I've ever seen day in and day out. It's 7,600 yards at sea level and plays so long.

"It was a great chance to get comfortable with that course," added Mickelson, who fired a two-over-par 74 in Sunday's final round at Torrey Pines.

"It has so many subtleties to it to learn that you need to play it a lot to really have a good chance in the 2008 Open.

"It was good to get a heads-up on how the greens are going to be and how it's going to play for the U.S. Open, even though the rough isn't quite as thick as it will be next year."

Woods, who clinched the Buick Invitational for the fifth time in 10 starts, expects the fairways to be particularly challenging at next year's U.S. Open.

"The rough won't be like it was this week and I'm sure par will be adjusted," the 12-times major winner said after completing his seventh consecutive victory on the PGA Tour.

"It's going to be one of the hardest Opens we'll ever face. The fairways will be faster in the summertime and it will be extremely difficult to keep the ball in the fairway."

Next year's U.S. Open will take place from June 12-15.

"You're going to have to shape the ball into the hills to try to keep the ball on the fairway," Woods added.

"As of right now, par will be probably 280. So if you're under par for the week, more likely they will be handing you the trophy."

Twice major champion John Daly, who won the 2004 Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, agreed.

"It's going to be one of the toughest U.S. Opens ever, especially if the wind blows," the big-hitting American said.

"They've taken out a ton of trees which, when the wind is blowing, is going affect a lot. It's going to be brutal like any other U.S. Open. It really is."

January 30, 2007


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