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“It’s all about the tee shots. I’m going to try to lay farther back than normal, because it’s still iffy hitting in that — I don’t know what they call it, rough, dirt, sand. … But it’s going to be iffy. You don’t know what kind of lies you’re going to get.”

Get through that and out of the fairways, and those notoriously tricky turtleback greens — which a smiling Watson repeatedly called “unfriendly” — await.

The “U.S. Open is challenging you at all levels. If you want to be a man and hit driver off that tee, you can,” he said. “If you want to lay back and try to play smarter, you can. … You have the ability to do it, now can you do it at that moment, is what the key is.

“So I think the U.S. Open is doing that, it’s just that’s what they’re trying to create,” he added. “They’re trying to create a challenge for everybody, and you can play it aggressively or you can play it smartly.”