What will be higher, the price of gas in Oakmont or the winning score?

Holes like one and ten, those holes were designed in hell, okay, the greens. Either that or the back part of them fell into hell. --Johnny Miller [#image: /photos/55adb4afadd713143b449cd4]|||Img_9830|||

When asked if he had really shot 85 in a practice round last Monday, Geoff Ogilvy, the defending U.S. Open champ told those gathered in the Interview Room, __“That’s an exaggeration. I think I shot 83… It was really hard, I thought there’s no way — I didn’t think there would be one score in the 60s at all and I thought there would be scores in the 90s.” __

Since then, the Pittsburgh-area weather and a trimming of the rough has helped make the golf course a little more reasonable, but the difficulty of the layout and the greens, still has players predicting high scores. “I guess this one is not too bad,” said Sergio Garcia, “for a par-78.” Garcia, who ranks seventh on the PGA Tour with a 67.79 scoring average, is quick to point out that even the holes that appear to be easy on the scorecard can be challenging. “A hole like number two, it’s a short hole — you’re hitting like a 4-iron off the tee and a wedge to the green — so you think that’s a birdie hole,” he said, “but depending where the pin is, it can be even hard to make par.”

Since World War II, the highest winning score in a U.S. Open was Julius Boros’ 293 at The Country Club in 1963. Forty-four years later, fours on every hole would be a good score.

“I would take four 72s,” said Padraig Harrington on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t be putting my house on that 8-over par is going to win this tournament. But I certainly think it’s got a chance.” In last year’s tournament at Winged Foot, Harrington bogeyed his final three holes to finish two shots out of first, but he says Oakmont is even harder. “It does make Winged Foot seem very, seem very pleasant, let’s say,” said Harrington. “you can find a bogey out there anywhere.”

Tiger Woods was asked if there are any fun holes on the course. “Yeah, the 19th is great,” he said.

— Jeff Patterson

(Photo: Jeff Patterson)