Sport on the Internet

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The Independent Online
THE 99th US Open golf championship that gets underway at Pinehurst, North Carolina, on Thursday is, as ever, a sell-out. Following it at a distance will involve either some late shifts with Sky Sports television, logging on to the Net for up-to-date results, and if all else fails, trying to get hold of a suitably late edition of the morning papers.

Most of the major sports news Websites will do a decent enough job of updating the scores as they come in, but few will be able to match the depth of reporting offered by the Official Site or GolfWeb's dedicated pages. Although the coverage of both sites has an American bias, it is not as one-sided a reading as the competition results - the last time a European won the event was Tony Jacklin in 1970; Americans dominate all the way back to 1895.

The winners and runners-up of previous US Opens are online at both sites. So too are well-ordered and accessible statistics packages about the tournament's history. These outline everything from multiple winners, leading money winners, holes in one, to a variety of miscellaneous facts, such as Jacklin being the last start-to-finish winner. The official site has the edge here, with more categories on offer.

Both sites have plenty of features about the history and culture of the competition as well as the nitty gritty of course design. In the run-up GolfWeb edged ahead in terms of depth of content. Particularly impressive were its audio interviews (in Real Audio or Windows specific formats) and competition previews by Fred Couples, David Duval, Lee Janzen, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

During qualifying full regional results were delivered virtually in real time, but news of the four European sectional qualifiers joining the 18 Europeans exempt from pre-qualification was flagged earlier on GolfWeb's partner site, the PGA European Tour pages. That site also hosted for GolfWeb the player details of the likes of Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood. The official site had all the player profiles on its own pages and was generally faster at accessing them. It had also set up space for the all-important leaderboard ready for the tee-off.

Registered members of GolfWeb can enter a sweepstake for tickets to next year's US Open at Pebble Beach. For those who prefer surer methods, the official site has full details about how to buy them.

Golfers, unlike footballers for example, tend not to have that many unofficial homepages built by fans as digital shrines. There are exceptions, however. Faldo, for instance, has a couple of fan sites, such as The Nick Faldo WebSite and The Master Nick Faldo. These strive to compile player records with news and anecdotes. Being labours of love, rather than commercial concerns, they are mercifully advertisement free and offer a welcome partisan voice.

Site Addresses

99th US Open Championship Official Site

http://www.usopen.com/

GolfWeb

http://www.golfweb.com/

PGA European Tour

http://www.europeantour.com/default.sps

The Master Nick Faldo

http://w1.318.telia.com/u31803624/links.html

The Nick Faldo WebSite

http://members.aol.com/chrisdicks/faldo.html

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