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72 holes to go

June 11, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

During my days as a golf professional, I was able to play a lot of great golf courses.

The Olympic Club is one of them.

I played it twice and it was a pleasure both times.

The golf course will play longer this week for the U.S. Open than when I played it, but, hard is hard and the Lake course at the Olympic Club is hard.

There are a lot of trees, a lot of rough and greens that make a 30-foot uphill putt far easier than an eight-foot curler.

The course has four par 3s and three par 5s, although one will play as a par 4 for the Open.

Two of the par 3s will play 200 yards with no place to miss.

One, as I describe later, will go between 230- and 245-yards.

The final one, No. 15, will play about 150 yards, but if you miss the green, it must be in the bunker because five- to six-inch rough surrounds the green.

The Lake Course at the Olympic Club will host its fifth U.S. Open this week.

The first four championship winners were unexpected.

Jack Fleck beat Ben Hogan in 1955, Billy Casper raced by Arnold Palmer in 1966, Scott Simpson defeated Tom Watson in 1987 and Lee Janzen topped Payne Stewart in 1998.

Fleck and Hogan shot 7-over par and Fleck eventually won in an 18-hole playoff.

The Davenport, Iowa, native was nine shots off Tommy Bolt's lead after the first round.

Nobody expected Fleck to beat Hogan, but his 67 was three clear of Hogan.

Although Casper is the most well-known name of the four who have won at the Olympic Club, again, nobody expected him to beat Arnie that day.

Palmer had a seven-shot lead with nine holes to play.

There was a two-shot swing on the par-3 15th hole and then again at the par-5 16th and Arnie had a one-shot cushion. That disappeared one hole later when Palmer made a 6 on the par-5 17th and then, the King, had to make an up-and-down par on 18 to force a playoff with Casper.

Palmer had a two-shot lead on the 10th tee in the playoff, but it was deja vu all over again and Casper made up six shots in the final nine holes to shoot 69 to Palmer's 73.

That was Arnie's third playoff loss in the U.S. Open.

A couple interesting tidbits about the 1966 Open: 19-year-old amateur Johnny Miller made

 
 

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