US Open
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US Open 2005
Ernie Els seeking third US Open title
Pinehurt's greens will be key challenge
Reteif Goosen quietly confident of chances
Padraig Harrington says Pinehurst harder than Augusta
Pinehurst will prove to be a tough test
USGA promise a fair test for US Open
Tiger Woods in confident mood
Phil Mickelson returns to a special Pinehurst
Padraig Harrington hoping to break through
Payne Stewart's image on 72nd hole flag
Retief Goosen looking for title defence
Payne Stewart forever linked to Pinehurst
Tiger Woods set on new records
Leading contenders for the 2005 US Open

USGA promise a fair test for US Open

The United States Golf Association (USGA), stung by criticism, has taken steps to ensure playing conditions for the U.S. Open will not get out of control as they did at Shinnecock Hills last year.

Attacked by players for failing to react when heat and wind turned Shinnecock's greens into unplayable slabs of concrete, USGA officials had stood firm, standing by the U.S. Open's reputation for providing the most demanding test in golf.

The lasting image 12 months ago was not of South Africa's Retief Goosen lifting the title for a second time but Phil Mickelson forlornly walking beside his ball as a short putt rolled past a hole and kept going.

David Fay, executive director of the USGA, told reporters on Wednesday: "We learned from it.

"It's not what we wanted to see. I'm disappointed in a sense that Retief's remarkable performance was overshadowed."

No player broke par in the closing round, which produced an average score of 78.7, the highest on the final day of a U.S. Open since 1935.

It prompted an exasperated Tiger Woods to complain: "This is not the way it's supposed to be played, that golf course got out of control".

During this week's practice rounds, most players have praised Pinehurst. But with temperatures soaring close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, concern rose that another Shinnecock was inevitable.

"Right now they (the greens) are very firm and fast just like they were say on Thursday and Friday of Shinnecock," said Mickelson.

"But as soon as they dried out overnight they became what we saw over the weekend, and I feel as though without rain, and it doesn't look like we're going to get any, we have potential for 18 holes that could be like...Shinnecock."

The USGA all but guaranteed this would not happen, saying they were monitoring every green.

Sprinklers could also be heard tapping out a beat on the golf course as officials attempted to keep conditions in check.

"We're very attuned to weather conditions and if we need to put water on the greens we will," said Walter Driver, chairman of the championship committee.

"We learned from Shinnecock that we will watch the golf course very closely. We're looking at every green all day long.

"We've already put some water on those greens to make sure that we maintain the golf course as close as we can to how it is. This is very difficult weather because it is so hot.

"We think this is going to be a very successful U.S. Open...we don't intend to set ourselves up for criticism."

The 105th U.S. Open begins on Thursday.