U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

The Loop

Something for Ohio State fans to smile about

__STILLWATER, Okla.—For an athletic department that can use a little good news about now, the Ohio State men's golf team did its best to oblige. Led by senior__Bo Hoag's 71, the Buckeyes posted a three-under 291 during the first round at the NCAA Championship, the low score among the schools playing in the morning wave at Karsten Creek GC.

Calmer conditions greeted the field Tuesday, with the 30 mile-an-hour winds from the practice round having dissipated, making the treacherous Tom Fazio course far more playable.

"I pulled them all together and I told the guys what makes this golf course is the wind," said Ohio State second-year coach Donnie Darr, a former assistant at Oklahoma State, who knew that without the breeze, there was a good number out there. "You've just got to understand that it's there to be had, and you've got to go get it. We didn't quite go get it, but we posted a pretty good number."

Indeed, Darr's local knowledge of Karsten Creek helped the Buckeyes feel confident, not confused, by the course.

"I think it's really huge," Hoag said. "We owe a lot to him this week. There are some things that he can point out to us that we wouldn't figure out but with our guys, it's more like we feel more comfortable knowing he knows the course as well as anybody."

Of course, Ohio State knows from having a difficult home course. With wet conditions in Columbus this spring, the school's Scarlet Course had rough that would rival most any layout, allowing Darr's team to have ample practice in the thick stuff. Add to that a recent visit to Scioto CC, with its firm, undulating greens, and the team was able to mimic the conditions they were likely to find in Stillwater.

"This course is just over 7,400 yards and Scarlet is 7,460 and it's a par 71," Hoag said. "So we know this course is not going to be any longer than what we play every day. and while the look is a little different, but the fairways are smaller at Scarlet and the rough is thick. tha'ts big for us. we know we can go out there and on our good days shoot under par at Scarlet, so why not here."

Along with Hoag, the Buckeyes counted a 72 from Brad Smith and 74s from Michael Cress and Alex Redfield. Ohio State was four strokes better than the next best morning team, Kennesaw State, and five better than Arkansas.

It didn't take long for the word to spread during Monday's practice round that Ohio State's football coach,Jim Tressel, had stepped down amid the growing revelation of improprieties within the program. Darr said that the team was disappointed by realized it was something they couldn't dwell on.

"We made an agreement after last night we talked a little bit and we said we're not going to talk about it any more," Darr said. "We're just going to worry about what we can control."