U.S. Open notebook

Tom Watson keeps up with the youngsters at U.S. Open

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 20, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF. -- It's possible Sunday will be Tom Watson's final round in a U.S. Open. At 60, Watson -- who won the tournament right here at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 1982 -- received a special exemption to play in this year's event, based largely on the strength of his performance in recent major championships, particularly last year's British Open, which he nearly won.

"Obviously, right now, I can't hit the ball nearly as long or as far as necessary to win on a lot of golf courses out with the kids," Watson said. "But there are just a few that I can still get around with them."

Pebble Beach might be one of them. After opening with a disappointing 78, Watson shot rounds of 71 and 70 in the second and third rounds, respectively, to stand at a respectable 6 over for the tournament. His round Saturday included four birdies.

"The putter started working today," he said, "unlike the first day, where it didn't work at all."

Watson's first Open came in 1972 at Pebble Beach, and he is the only player to appear in all five Opens here. This is his 31st appearance in the Open but his first since 2003.

He is planning on playing the British Open at St. Andrews, and he said he would play in a future U.S. Open if he qualified by winning the U.S. Senior Open, which he has never done.

Saturday, when Watson finished his round with a par on 18, he received an ovation from the galleries, which were clearly happy to have him back.

"It warms me," he said. "Simply said, it warms me."

Virginian grinds it out

Before this week, Fairfax native Steve Marino had never played the weekend in a U.S. Open. He made the cut by a shot and had it going on the front side Saturday -- two-putting for birdie at the par-5 sixth, chipping in for birdie from deep grass on the difficult ninth and burying a 10-footer for another birdie at the 10th. That got him to 1 under for his round and 5 over for the tournament.

But it didn't make him think he was rolling.

"It's hard, man," Marino said. "I'm just grinding out there. I haven't made a single putt. I'm just trying to get myself in position where I can limit my mistakes and not make anything too big."

Marino's finish -- he bogeyed three of his final six holes, and missed an eight-foot birdie putt at 18 -- was, as he said, "frustrating." He shot 73 and stands at 8 over headed into the final round.

"You have to be so patient," he said. "I'm going to be extremely exhausted when it's over."

Scouting for next year

A crew from Bethesda's Congressional Country Club, which hosts the Open next year, spent much of the week here working with both USGA officials and their counterparts from Pebble Beach to help prepare for the 2011 event. Paul Klinedinst and Ben Brundred, the co-chairmen of Congressional's U.S. Open committee, have visited the Open every year since 2001 -- first pursuing the event and then, after the USGA awarded Congressional the tournament in 2004, scouting things out.

"Each year, we've done more and more detailed site visits," Klinedinst said.

This year, Mike Giuffre, the director of greens and grounds maintenance, has worked with Pebble Beach's staff on maintaining the golf course. . . .

Thongchai Jaidee made the tournament's first hole-in-one when he aced the 181-yard fifth hole. It was the first ace at an Open since 2006, when Peter Hedblom had one on the third hole at Winged Foot.

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