Woods must ride breeze on mob's favourite course

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The Independent Online

Just as New York left its imprint on last year's championship at Bethpage, not least on the eardrums, so the 103rd US Open has a Chicagoan feel. This is the Windy City and on a course such as Olympia Fields a healthy breeze, as has been blowing for the practice rounds, should make for a severe challenge.

Bethpage was longer but also straighter and the doglegs here mean that accuracy, the quality most highly prized by the United States Golf Association and its agronomists, will be even more important.

"This course is not as easy as people think," said the defending champion Tiger Woods of the 7,190-yard, par-70 layout. "When you get the wind blowing through these trees and swirling around, some of the holes may be short but they have fairways that are 18, 20 yards wide.

"You have to make a decision what your line is going to be off the tee and stay committed to that line," he added. After Mike Weir won the Masters, Woods could leave here as he arrived in the city for the 1999 USPGA at Medinah - without a major title.

"I didn't know you were concerned," Woods said when asked the obvious question. "To win one major a year is great. That's always my goal and that's my goal this week." Woods, echoing Padraig Harrington's thoughts, said you had to "plod" your way around at the US Open. Though Phil Mickelson may be tempted into hitting more drivers than at other US Open venues, Ernie Els, who today plays with Woods and American amateur Ricky Barnes, may be more cautious given the large, undulating greens. "It a classical golf course and the set-up is very fair," he said.

Darren Clarke, who hopes to attack where he can, likes the course and, notably, has not been spending every moment on the practice range. "On the day before a major he is usually panicking that everything isn't absolutely right," said Clarke's manager, Chubby Chandler. "But today we could be back at the house by lunchtime." Chandler, who promoted last week's British Masters, was delighted with the rebirth of the tournament. He is now considering whether to bring the event forward to take the old Benson & Hedges slot on BBC television, or push it back to around the Open to get a more international field.

It may help that his company, ISM, has joined up with the American firm Gaylord, who represent Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey, and AJB Sports from Australia. The joint venture will provide marketing opportunities for all their clients around the world.

Casey's position of being with an American manager but wanting to play extensively in Europe helped bring the agencies together. The 25-year-old's win in the B&H and two other top-10s earned him the Asprey golfer of the month award for May.

Olympia Fields was built in the late 1920s with the members arriving from downtown Chicago by train and their influence - this was the time of the mob - got a station built right next to the club. As a result those on the first tee have to ignore the whistles of the trains, or invoke the spirit of Joyce Wethered, who one day at Sherringham was asked how her shot had not been affected by a passing train. "What train?" she replied.

When the 1933 Western Open was played here, a sometime professional called Vincent Gebhardi scored an 83 in the first round. When he saw the scores in the newspaper, the chief of police sent out a couple of detectives to arrest the man who was otherwise known as the mobster "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn.

US OPEN TEE-OFF TIMES

FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS (US unless stated, all times BST)

1st tee today, 10th tee tomorrow

1300 and 1800 C Campbell, *J Holmes, B Elder
1310 and 1810 G Hiller, S McCarty, R Biancalana
1320 and 1820 B Tway, *W Haas, J Sindelar
1330 and 1830 T Immelman (SA), T Byrum, L Mize
1340 and 1840 L Roberts, S Leaney (Aus), S Flesch
1350 and 1850 J Parnevik (Swe), B Mayfair, R Sabbatini (SA)
1400 and 1900 J Leonard, P Harrington (Irl), C Howell
1410 and 1910 J Rose (GB), J Byrd, A Scott (Aus)
1420 and 1920 J Kelly, Waite (NZ), M Calcavecchia
1430 and 1930 R Goosen (SA), C DiMarco, F Couples
1440 and 1940 R Pampling (Aus), B Gay, J D Blake
1450 and 1950 C Bowden, *L List, M Dawson
1500 and 2000 D Labelle, B Lunde, S Gotsche
1800 and 1300 B Davis (GB), *C Reavie, B Quigley
1810 and 1310 D Pride, W Schutte (SA), D Dunakey
1820 and 1320 P Casey (GB), *T Kuehne, J Ogilvie
1830 and 1330 T Bjorn (Den), *H Mahan, R Beem
1840 and 1340 M O'Meara, D Toms, M Weir (Can)
1850 and 1350 S Hoch, P Lonard (Aus), H Irwin
1900 and 1400 N Faldo (GB), C Riley, K J Choi (S Kor)
1910 and 1410 J Haas, S Garcia (Sp), D Love
1920 and 1420 T Kite, S Appleby (Aus), J Durant
1930 and 1430 T Taniguchi (Japan), S Lowery, Triplett
1940 and 1440 W Austin, C Smith, T Petrovic
1950 and 1450 F Jacobson (Swe), J Maginnes, B Henninger
2000 and 1500 G Sisk, R Dillon, A Morin

10th tee today, 1st tee tomorrow

1300 and 1800 H Tanaka (Japan), C Kresge, T Gillis
1310 and 1810 I Leggatt (Can), D Wilson, D Smail (NZ)
1320 and 1820 *C Baryla (Can), K Jones, R Thatcher
1330 and 1830 *R Barnes, E Els (SA), T Woods
1340 and 1840 B Molder, *T Glissmeyer, S Murphy
1350 and 1850 V Singh (Fiji), R Mediate, B Langer (Ger)
1400 and 1900 S McCarron, C Montgomerie (GB), B Estes
1410 and 1910 J Maggert, D Pooley, C Parry (Aus)
1420 and 1920 R Allenby (Aus), K Sutherland, D Forsman
1430 and 1930 B Faxon, T Clark (SA), D Duval
1440 and 1940 T Armour, O Browne, S McRoy
1450 and 1950 M Lafeber (Neth), *R Reinsberg, D Stiles
1500 and 2000 B Guetz, J Knutzon, C Brisson
1800 and 1300 R Johnson (Swe), J P Hayes, R Damron
1810 and 1310 C Anderson, M Wurtz, R Bradley
1820 and 1320 N Lancaster, J Kaye, G Ogilvy (Aus)
1830 and 1330 J Furyk, D Clarke (NIrl), P Mickelson
1840 and 1340 K Perry, Paul Lawrie (GB), L Janzen
1850 and 1350 M Campbell (NZ), C Pavin, J M Olazabal (Sp)
1900 and 1400 S Cink, N Price (Zim), J Sluman
1910 and 1410 S Maruyama (Japan), L Mattiace, E Romero (Arg)
1920 and 1420 J Rollins, N Fasth (Swe), D Hart
1930 and 1430 A Cabrera (Arg), S Verplank, T Watson
1940 and 1440 B Andrade, A Cejka (Ger), F Funk
1950 and 1450 B Jobe, J Williamson, B Burns
2000 and 1500 H Matsuo (Japan), A Arvidson, M Seppanen

* Denotes amateur

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