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"Even though it's the shortest U.S. Open we play, it's still -- it's getting awfully quick out there," Woods said. "Just in the last couple days. And if they don't put any water on these things, come Sunday, it's going to be very interesting."
This is the Pebble Beach's fifth U.S. Open (On Wednesday, they announced a sixth will be played here in 2019) and, unlike other venues, this course always produces big-name champions. Woods, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Kite are the previous winners here -- a surprising consistency for a tournament that produces surprises more often than the other majors.
"Pure ball strikers I think more than anything else," Poulter said when asked what those winners had in common. "Very methodical players. Guys that understand the game probably better than anybody else, to be honest. They know what it takes to win."
At the U.S. Open, the first 63 holes are more about not losing, especially if the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.
Watson said he was somewhat amazed standing on the par-5 sixth hole during practice, watching players hit irons and 3-woods into the area that fronts the huge hill that leads upward to the green. Control is the key when the red hazard line is actually drawn into the edge of the fairway.
"You just don't hit it there," Watson said. "I mean, they show it to you. It's not blind. They say, `Don't hit it there.' That's why the kids were hitting 3-woods and irons off the tee downwind. They can say, `Well, I can get this on in two and I don't have to force the issue.'"
The course will play at only 7,040 yards, the shortest track for a U.S. Open in seven years. But in this case, short does not mean easy -- sort of in the same way that sunny may not mean ideal.
"I think coming into the U.S. Open you are mentally preparing yourself for what you're going to face," said Rory McIlroy, who at 21 is ranked 10th in the world. "I know on Thursday I'm probably going to hit it in the rough a few times, I'm going to miss a few greens, but it's how you deal with that, how you handle it, and hopefully you do your best and make the best of that situation and move on to the next."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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