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Congressional gearing up for US Open

When Tiger Woods and a field of top rivals play the PGA National this week, they will have a final look at the Congressional Country Club ahead of its turn as host of the 2011 US Open.

The 7,255-yard layout has already hosted three major tournaments, including the 1964 and 1997 US Opens and the 1976 PGA Championship, and the par-70 course will stage another in two years.

The six million-dollar US PGA event will move to suburban Philadelphia for the next two years to allow for renovations of greens and some tee areas next year and the playing of the tournament next year.

"I think the course can be in even better shape with the new greens," world number one Woods said.

Some changes have already been made from the 1997 layout upon which South Africa's Ernie Els won his second US Open crown, the biggest being that the par-3 18th hole from that layout has been shifted with the former 17th now used as the concluding hole, as it will be this week for the event hosted by Woods.

Lucas Glover, who won the US Open last week at Bethpage Black, expects Congressional to be an impressive site for a major in two years.

"Absolutely. It's long, tight, the greens are undulating and they can hide the pins. It's a great course. I think we saw that in '97," Glover said.

"But there are some new tees out there we have seen and will see. And we're going to see new greens. But it's an impressive test. It's tough."

Fellow American Jim Furyk, the 2003 US Open champion, expects the US Golf Association will have trouble making the greens faster, among their trademark moves to toughen a course.

"The one thing you have here from a US Open standpoint is that it's very difficult to make the greens here too quick," Furyk said.

"If you get them up there, you really lose a lot of pin placements and you lose your ability to make the course playable.

"Obviously we will see rough, firm greens and narrow fairways. So that's plenty, as it proved to be back in '97."

Tees are set to be moved back at the concluding holes on the front and back nine as well as others to change angles and create a trickier layout.

Another factor will be the new groove limits on irons that go into PGA rules starting next season. The change will make it tougher to land balls on the greens from the rough by limiting the ability to spin the ball.

"At the US Open, it could make a huge difference," Furyk said.


July 2, 2009

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