US Open
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Event Features
Out in the dark -notes from Thursday
Olazabal aiming for back to back Majors
Monty confident of breaking major duck
Players love the Pinehurst course and the lack of rough
Stewart resolves differences with USGA - Wednesday's Notes
Duval tries again for first major
Tiger's new patience might be key
Olazabal's step for the Grand Slam
Betting preview of the US Open
Duval ready to resume Major hunt
Tiger attracts the hecklers
Westwood disappointed about Pinehurst set up
New experience for rookie Phil Price
Montgomerie gets extra security
Duval's Open preparations: putter and a knife
Andrew Coltart pulls out of US Open
Duval's burning ambition
Lehman keeps coming back for more after four Open heartaches
Woods on top of his game heading into Pinehurst
1st & 2nd days pairings & tee times
Janzen basking in being Champion

It took Lee Janzen one U.S. Open win to make a name for himself. It took the second to allow Janzen to enjoy himself.

He did just that last year, walking up the 18th fairway at the Olympic Club in San Francisco with his ball tucked safely on the green and a one-shot lead on the field. The win wasn't quite secured, but Janzen wasn't about to let the moment go.

"I knew from the time of the first one to the second one that if I ever got a chance to walk up 18 at the U.S. Open, at the top of the leaderboard, that I would really, really enjoy it every step of the way," Janzen said.

Enjoy it Janzen did, making his par before spending 20 agonising moments waiting to see if Payne Stewart could birdie the final hole to force a playoff.

When Stewart's downhill put curled away from the hole, Janzen let out a big sigh and buried his head in a towel. Tears would come later as the enormity of becoming only the 18th golfer to ever win the Open more than once began to sink in.

"Winning the second one was probably a little harder because I knew what had happened the first time and how hard it was," said Janzen, who first won at Baltusrol in 1993. "Maybe I just didn't know what I was doing, but I certainly appreciate the second one; not that I didn't appreciate the first one."

That might be because the first one came out of nowhere.

Janzen had won only two tournaments on the PGA Tour when he used a stretch run to win his first Open. He broke a tie with a 20-foot birdie putt on 14, then chipped in on 16 to take command of the tournament.

A week later, at the Western Open, he stepped to the first tee to play with Fred Couples and heard his name announced for the first time as an Open champion.

The title changed after last year's win. Now he gets introduced as a two-time U.S. Open champion

"It still hits me and I'm amazed that it happened," Janzen said. "That was even before No. 2. So you can imagine how I feel now."

Janzen arrives at Pinehurst No. 2 this week with a chance to make even more history. He's trying to become the first person to win back-to-back Opens since Curtis Strange in 1988-89, and to join an even more select field of three-time Open winners.

He's got the creative touch around the greens and grind-it-out game it takes to do it, and he's playing a course where he finished second in the 1992 Tour Championship.

"I fell in love with the course immediately and probably this would be No. 1 on my list as my favourite place to play," Janzen said. "When they announced in 1992 we were coming here for the U.S. Open I probably looked forward to this U.S. Open more than any other and that includes the ones that we have already played."

Of course, winning the Open takes more than some talent and endurance.

It also takes a bit of luck, something Janzen found out in both of his wins.

At Baltusrol, a 5-iron that was supposed to go over a big tree instead somehow wound itself through two branches for an unlikely par. On the fifth hole of the final round at Olympic, Janzen's tee shot stuck up in a tree and he headed downcast back to the tee fully expecting to make double bogey or more.

Just then, a gust of wind blew the ball out of the tree and Janzen hacked it out of the rough, then hit it over the green. He then chipped in for an improbable par and played the rest of the way 3-under to win.

At Pinehurst, the pines could be a factor. But the winner will likely find more breaks in where balls end up around the domed greens, where precise iron play is critical.

"Driving will be important, but I don't think it is important as maybe an adequate driver and a guy who is a superior iron player," Janzen said. "You can say that about all the players on tour, but I think you can narrow it down to probably a handful of guys."

Is Janzen one of those guys?

Las Vegas oddsmakers don't even rank him among the favourites, relegating Janzen to a 33-1 pick.

But he loves the course and has been playing well in recent weeks following a car accident in which he was rear-ended at the Colonial. He shot an opening 65 for the first-round lead at the Memorial, and he certainly can play with the confident swagger of someone who has won twice.

"I probably have more confidence in my game now than I did a year ago," Janzen said.

 

 

AP


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