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US Open to be harder than ever say USGA

If USGA executive director Mike Davis has his way, the record low scores at last year's US Open at Congressional are unlikely to travel to the West Coast.

Davis said Monday at San Francisco's majestic Olympic Club that the course will be ''the hardest start in a US Open'' when players tee off June 14.

The unleveled Lake Course in the serene setting just across the street from the Pacific Ocean will play at 7,170 yards - 373 yards longer than the last time the tournament hosted the national championship in 1998 - including the 670-yard 16th that could be the longest Par 5 in Open history.

Windy conditions and the threat of the city's famous fog also could make the hilly course even tougher.

"I am convinced that this will be the hardest start in a U.S. Open," Davis said after walking the course on a sun-soaked day along the California coast.

"The first six holes are going to just be brutal. I would contend if you play the first six holes 2 over, I don't think you're giving up anything to the field."

In decades past, the usual reaction has been to overcompensate after so many red numbers ended up on the leaderboard.

Olympic has historically been more famous for the stars that have lost than won.

The place "where champions go to die," as some call it, saw Arnold Palmer lose a seven-shot lead to Billy Casper with nine holes to go in 1966.

Jack Fleck also beat Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff at Olympic in 1955, the first of four previous times the club hosted the U.S. Open. And Scott Simpson won by a stroke over Tom Watson in 1987.

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