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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Open: One Rough Row to Hoe

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Michigan -- You could bale it. You could comb it with a plow. You could lose a car in it. You could feed entire herds of hungry cattle with it.


It's that darned rough where you probably could lose the U.S. Open at Oakland Hills Country Club if your golf ball spends too much time in it.


And how do you win the U.S. Open?


Well, it's going to be a rough job, and not just because of those tall, grassy areas of uncut hay located just off the fairways and greens, the ones that look like weeds on steroids.


Lee Janzen said the rough is bad enough, though.


"It's brutal," he said.


The U.S. Open is tough enough, but there's also the history thing, which is what should have Corey Pavin's mustache turning golf-ball white right about now.


The fact is that for the last three defending champions, the U.S. Open has been an unplayable lie. Consider:


1993: After winning the Open at Pebble Beach, Tom Kite misses the cut at Baltusrol.


1994: After winning the Open at Baltusrol, Janzen misses the cut at Oakmont.


1995: After winning the Open at Oakmont, Ernie Els misses the cut at Shinnecock Hills.


1996: After winning the Open at Shinnecock Hills, Pavin (fill in the blank) at Oakland Hills.


Now, Corey, about that Kite-Janzen-Els trifecta: What are you going to do about it?


"Obviously they didn't figure it out, so why should I have to?" said Pavin, who begins his defense Thursday.


"It's a difficult question to answer because I never won a major before, so I don't know what it's going to be like," he admitted.


Chances are it's going to be really hard.


Here at Oakmont, the course is known as "the Monster," mainly because golf legend Ben Hogan named it that when he closed with a 67 to win the 1951 U.S. Open on the hilly, tree-lined, twisting track and proudly proclaimed, "I brought the monster to its knees."


Pavin's challenge is not a small one. No one has repeated as U.S. Open champion since Curtis Strange won in 1988 and '89. Of course, Strange hasn't won a tournament since.


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Englishman Paul Eales flew into Detroit to play the U.S. Open, but his clubs didn't. They were lost by Delta Airlines.


Eales, getting ready to play in his first U.S. Open, was forced to purchase a new set a few kilometers up the road from Oakland Hills at Carl's Golfland, a driving range and golf shop.


The price tags were still hanging from his new putter and golf shoes as Eales prepared to head for the practice range early Tuesday.


The way Eales was talking after the incident, it appeared that Delta has lost a customer.


"Delta offered me $75 toward the rental of a new set," Eales said. "I explained to the woman that $75 wouldn't even rent a pair of shoelaces for the equipment I use. So she agreed to up it by $25. I said, 'You're all heart.'


"The sad thing is that the driver and the 4-wood I'd had for eight years. And they're probably the two most crucial clubs on this course.''