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The lowest winning score at Olympic in the U.S. Open is 3-under 277. The highest is 7-over 287.

The course essentially was built on the side of a giant sand dune that leads toward Lake Merced, meaning most fairways are slanted. It’s an uphill walk just crossing the 17th fairway. The fourth hole slopes severely to the right, but the hole is a dogleg to the left to an elevated green.

“This sort of sets itself apart because of the severity of the fairways, and the fact that you have to shape it into them,” Lee Westwood said. “I can’t think of any other course that really compares to it. Most places you try and get the fairways pretty flat when they’re doing the design. But here, they seem to prefer the ball to land on one side of the fairway and run to the other.”

The U.S. Open gets under way Thursday, and it won’t take long for some buzz to fill the cool, heavy air along the Pacific.

Woods and Phil Mickelson, the biggest (and most one-sided) rivalry of their generation, are playing with Watson in the fourth group of the day, starting on the par-4 ninth hole. The afternoon has McIlroy and two Englishman desperate to win their first major Westwood and Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world.