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Liguori: U.S. Open: The Olympic Club Will Offer A Brutal Test

Tadahiro Takayama of Japan hits from a bunker during a practice round prior to the start of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club on June 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Tadahiro Takayama of Japan hits from a bunker during a practice round prior to the start of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club on June 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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By Ann Liguori
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Small, undulating greens, tight fairways, fairways that slope opposite of the hole contours, severe elevation and lengthened holes, make The Olympic Club’s Lake Course a brutal test for the golfers. Add deep rough, wind and possible fog and the players will be challenged from all sides.

The course will play 7,170 yards, a par 70. The 670 yard, par-5 16th hole is the longest hole in U.S. Open history, impossible to reach in two shots. Bubba Watson, one of the longest drivers on the Tour, said he doesn’t know “why it needs to be 670 yards with the deepest rough on the golf course.” “There are going to be people who don’t get there in three because they hit it in the rough and the lie is bad,” Bubba said. “I hit driver, driver today (Tuesday in the practice round) and still had 60 yards to the front and I hit two perfect shots from the back tee.”

Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director, says The Olympic Club “offers the hardest start in golf.” That’s largely due to the tight fairways, the added length to several of the first six holes, the severe slopes of the fairways and guarded greens.

The Olympic Club is the oldest athletic club in the country, established in 1860.

Pat Finlen, the Director of Golf Course Maintenance for The Olympic Club, supervised changes to the course that included re-grassing all the greens with bentgrass and changing four of the greens. The 18th green was flattened after the 1998 U.S. Open and a slope of 4 to 4 1/2 percent was created to make the finishing hole even more challenging.

Youngest golfer in U.S. Open history:

14-year old Andy Zhang, a native of China, will become the youngest golfer in U.S. Open history when he tees off at 8.32 PST, 11.32 EST Thursday morning with Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan and Mark Wilson of Chicago.  Zhang was a second alternate and was added to the field to replace Paul Casey, who withdrew with a bad shoulder, after Brent Snedeker withdrew because of an injured rib. Zhang stands six foot tall and sounds very mature for his age.

Golfers to follow from the New York metropolitan area:

The five golfers who qualified for the U.S. Open from the New York Metropolitan area are Morgan Hoffman, a member of Arcola Country Club in Paramus, N.J.; 2009 Met Am Champ Cameron Wilson; Brian Gaffney, Rumson Country Club head professional; Suburban Country Club head pro Mark McCormick and former  Trump National-Bedminster assistant pro Jim Herman. For more information on these guys, click here

Casey Martin – back!

Casey Martin, now the Golf Coach at University of Oregon, will compete in the U.S. Open, his first Major since he played in the U.S Open 14 years ago here at The Olympic Club. Martin played a practice round with Tiger on Monday, his college buddy from Stanford. Martin tees off at 3.45 EST on Thursday and will play the first two rounds with amateur Cameron Wilson and Dennis Miller.

Casey suffers with Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome, a very painful affliction.

In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Martin, saying he could use a cart to ride in tournaments.

Enjoy the golf! There will be plenty of interesting stories unfolding.

Be sure to ‘friend’ Ann on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and visit her web site at www.annliguori.com.

Who are you pulling for in the U.S. Open? Be heard in the comments below!