Oakmont Diary

 

Today's other stories in brief

Rose recharged

Justin Rose's inactivity is not entirely by choice, with the prolonged rest periods enforced by a back injury. But, in his breakout moments, the Englishman has provided sufficient evidence to suggest his game has reached a new level and he comes into this US Open as a serious contender.

Rose has played only twice since reaching the quarter-finals of the Accenture Matchplay in February. He made a splash each time. In the US Masters at Augusta, he finished fifth; and in the recent BMW PGA at Wentworth, he was denied in a play-off.

And while he has been content to be a range rat since Wentworth rather than playing tournaments, he insists there are no lingering injury concerns heading into what will be just his third US Open appearance.

"I feel I'm over the injury, there are no real problems now. It's been a frustrating time for me. It is never nice to sit on the couch and watch, but, in other ways, it has been good. It has helped me to recharge the batteries and I think that freshness will stand me in good stead here and for the rest of the year."

Rose, who finished fifth in his US Open debut at Olympia Fields in 2003, but who missed the cut the following year at Shinnecock Hills, paid a reconnaissance visit to Oakmont for two days last week. He then returned to his home in Orlando for some practice, before returning to Pittsburgh with a sense that he is again ready to contend in a major. It is all a far cry to his run of 21 straight missed cuts after he turned professional in 1998.

"You know, this week will test your patience to the limit. You have to be able to take some knocks on the chin and be able to deal with it. I am hoping to have enough energy to be able to do that. For sure, you're going to make mistakes. There will be plenty of bogeys.

"But I think there are still plenty of birdies too to be had. If you hit the right shot, it can feed into the pin, depending on where they put that flag.

"But there are chances on the back nine and, if you can pick up two or three birdies a round and limit your mistakes and stay as close to par as possible, that has to be your game plan."

Lee's early start

It seems players are just getting younger and younger. The other day, Tiger Woods was stopped midway through his practice round by a Japanese TV crew to view the swing on a laptop of 15-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, who recently won a professional tournament on the Japan Tour.

Ishikawa is not in the field at Oakmont, but 16-year-old Canadian amateur Richard Lee - who plans to turn professional after the US Open - is

Lee, who is still in high school, plans to play a couple of Nationwide Tour events and the Canadian Open on sponsor's invitations. He once shot a 10-under-par 62 when was just 12.

"I always knew I'd be out here (on tour). I picked up a plastic club when I was a year old, a real club when I was three and my first tournament was at seven or nine, something like that," said Lee.

Monty goes local

Colin Montgomerie is hoping some local knowledge will go a long way at Oakmont. Monty, who was beaten in a play-off by Ernie Els on this course in 1994, sacked his caddie, Alastair McLean, after missing the cut in the Austrian Open last week and has turned to veteran Oakmont caddie Billy Goddard to carry his bag in a one-off job deal.

"I've caddied here for 49 years and it is just another loop," said Goddard. "The normal pay here is $80 to $100 so, as long as the pay doesn't drop down, we'll be alright. The other caddies are all telling me to 'bring him home', but I hope they don't mean that literally."

Goddard caddied in the 1973 US Open here for Miller Barber, who played with Johnny Miller as he shot a 63 on the last day to win the championship. "That was probably the greatest round of golf ever played," attested Goddard.

Irish at the US Open

Padraig Harrington

1997 Congressional Missed Cut

1998 Olympic T-32nd

2000 Pebble Beach 5th

2001 Southern Hills T-30th

2002 Bethpage T-8th

2003 Olympia Fields T-10th

2004 Shinnecock Hills T-31st

2005 Pinehurst No 2 Missed Cut

2006 Winged Foot 5th

Graeme McDowell

2005 Pinehurst No 2 T-80th

2006 Winged Foot T-48th

Ramsay in right mood

Richie Ramsay has come a long way since he captured the Irish Amateur Open championship at Carton House in 2005. Since then, the Scot has won the US Amateur - last year - and played, and missed the cut, in the US Masters.

For his debut appearance in the US Open, the one-time caddie at Royal Aberdeen has been paired alongside defending champion Geoff Ogilvy and Tiger Woods.

"It doesn't matter if I'm playing with Tiger or one of my mates at Royal Aberdeen, my swing thoughts will be the same," said Ramsay.