An albatross for Alvaro

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Alvaro Quiros heard the roars and still didn’t know what happened.

After all, he was too far away to even see his ball.

The Spaniard teed off with driver from 288 yards out on the par-4 seventh Wednesday. The ball rolled up the elevated green, caught the second slope and trickled into the hole for an extraordinary ace.

The grandstand crowd stood and delivered a roar that echoed across The Olympic Club so loud one might’ve thought the U.S. Open had begun a day early.

“We thought it was going to be more in the middle of the green. Suddenly, we see the people stand,” Quiros said. “Gonzalo (Fernandez-Castano) said, `I think you holed it.’ And I said, `No, it probably just touched the flag.’ And then we start to walk and the people start screaming again. I said, `OK, probably. Maybe.’ When we start to get closer to the green people start congratulating me, and that’s when I realized it was an albatross.”

Quiros originally pulled out a 3-wood until his caddie talked him into driver _ “the perfect club,” he said _ at the last moment. He waved to the fans and tipped his cap walking up the green, pulled the ball out of the hole and tossed it into the grandstand.

So much for saving a souvenir.

Even for the 29-year-old Spaniard whom some consider the longest hitter in the game, a hole-in-one on a par 4 is rare. Quiros said he had made only four other aces, and also had one albatross on a par 5 in Argentina back in 2003.

The one bad part of his first ace on a par 4? It came in a practice round.

“The funny thing is,” he said, “I’m probably going to be missing this green.”

___

DUSTIN‘S BACK: Dustin Johnson’s victory last weekend at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis showed his back is strong enough to contend on the PGA Tour again.

This week will show how far back his golf game really is.

For a heavy hitter with a flair for the dramatic in the U.S. Open, Johnson has been largely overlooked heading into Thursday’s opening round at The Olympic Club. He has played only two tournaments since he pulled a muscle in his lower right back in early March lifting a jet ski at his home, missing the Masters and almost two months of golf.

Then again, he has won half those starts.

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