- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

MAMARONECK, N.Y. — Once around the golf course while waiting for the first weather delay in the 106th U.S. Open:

• Let’s clear up something right now: Tadd Fujikawa, the 15-year-old amateur who sneaked into the field, isn’t just the youngest player in the Open since World War II; he’s the youngest in recorded history. (Nobody knows how old some of the earliest contestants were.)

The USGA says Tyrell Garth Jr. was 14 when he qualified for the ‘41 Open, but he almost certainly wasn’t. At least, not according to the 1930 U.S. Census (which I accessed on one of my favorite Web sites, Ancestry.com). The census says Garth, the son of a Beaumont, Texas, car salesman, was “4 6/12” — that is, 41/2 — on April 15, 1930. That means he likely was born in October 1925, making him about two months older at the time of the ‘41 Open than Fujikawa (15 years, 5 months) is now.

More evidence: A story in the Feb. 21, 1941, Port Arthur News (excavated from Ancestry.com’s archives) lists Garth as 15. He qualified for the Open three months later in Houston.

FYI: “The Official U.S. Open Almanac” says Garth “shot 80 in the first round [of the Open], then withdrew after going out in 43 in the rainstorm the following day.”

• Struggling Ernie Els says, “I’ve been looking for that one round that might turn it around for me.”

To which I reply: Bartender, another beer for the Big Easy — and put it on my tab.

• Els also says, “The first four holes [at Winged Foot], if you get through them at level par, you’re smiling, believe me. That’s like being 2-under par.”

To which I reply: If I get through the first four holes in 15 strokes, it’s because I’ve skipped the second hole.

In my mind, Davis Love has zero chance to win this thing, even though he won the ‘97 PGA here. Why? Because the Open is a tournament unto itself.

Remember the ‘97 Open at Congressional? You would have thought Greg Norman would be in the running because he’d won two Kempers on the same property, but the Shark didn’t even make the cut.

Mark O’Meara, meanwhile, won four PGA Tour events at Pebble Beach. In his three Opens there, however, he missed the cut once and finished 58th and T-51 the other times.

Nick Price in the ‘94 PGA at Southern Hills: Won.

Nick Price in the ‘01 Open at Southern Hills: T-29.

There’s golf, and then there’s U.S. Open golf. Two entirely different animals.

• Top Three Contenders to Be the Next Michael Campbell:

1. David Howell — The 30-year-old Brit is still looking for his first PGA Tour title, but my 16-year-old (who follows this stuff much more closely than I do) likes him.

2. Tim Herron — Go ahead and laugh. Lumpy was sixth in the ‘99 Open and won last month at Colonial. Plus, his best bud is Fuzzy Zoeller, conqueror of Winged Foot in ‘84.

3. Michael Campbell — How many defending champs have been so quickly dismissed?

• Geezer Most Likely to Appear on the Leader Board: Corey Pavin. Though he hasn’t been in the winner’s circle since ‘96, he finished T-17 and T-11 in the last two Opens. Also, his game is finally in gear after a slow start (nine rounds in the 60s in his last four tournaments).

• No truth to the rumor that Phil Mickelson plans to have 13 drivers and one putter in his bag this week. But if anybody did …

• It would be a lot easier to get excited about Adam Scott, en fuego as he is, if he’d ever broken 70 in the Open.

• What’s with this sudden love affair between the Open and metro New York? Not that I don’t appreciate good pizza, but …

From 1937 to 1992, or 56 years, seven Opens were held in the New York area — three at Baltusrol (‘54, ‘67, ‘80), three at Winged Foot (‘59, ‘74, ‘84) and one at Shinnecock (‘86).

From 1993 to 2009, though, or just 17 years, six Opens will be here — one at Baltusrol (‘93), one at Winged Foot (‘06), two at Shinnecock (‘95, ‘04) and two at Bethpage Black (‘02, ‘09). Granted, it’s the nation’s largest TV market, but this is, after all, the U.S. Open we’re talking about.

The PGA Championship, on the other hand, has visited metro New York just twice since 1940 — in ‘97 (Winged Foot) and again last year (Baltusrol). (And it won’t return until 2014 at the earliest.)

Could these two organizations please find a happy medium?

• And finally, give yourself 10 points if you knew that Vijay Singh isn’t the only Singh in the field. (India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, denizen of the European, Asian and Japanese tours, is the other.)

It’s only fitting, I suppose, since Winged Foot is so close to Sing Sing.

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