Course too tough for Tiger to talk

Tiger Woods watches his shot from the second tee during a practice round for the U.S. Open on the...

Tiger Woods watches his shot from the second tee during a practice round for the U.S. Open on the Lake Course at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., June 12, 2012. (MATT SULLIVAN/Reuters)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:25 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - Don't expect Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to be doing a lot of chatting Thursday and Friday at the U.S. Open.

The two will play together during the first two rounds along with Masters champ Bubba Watson. The Lake Course at Olympic is so tough, according to Woods, that conversation will be at a premium.

"I don't think we're going to talk about a lot," Woods said. "This is a major championship. We've got work to do ... it's such a test playing in this championship.

"This is one of those championships that I think the guys talk the least to one another because it's so difficult. There's no shot you can take off, so to speak."

Mickelson can't wait to tee it up with his greatest rival.

"I get excited to play with Tiger. I love it. I think we all do," Mickelson said. "He gets the best out of me. When it's time to tee off on Thursday I'll be ready to play. One of the issues I've had this year I've been a little mentally lethargic on Thursday and Friday. I won't be this week."

READY TO ROLL

Watson has played only two tournaments since winning the Masters, and he missed the cut in one of them, the Memorial, two weeks ago.

"It has been a tough road trying to get back to golf, trying to get back to focusing on golf," Watson said. "Now after missing a cut a couple of weeks ago, I got mad enough and started practising."

You'd think the long-bombing Watson would be a big fan of the longest hole in U.S. Open history, the 670-yard 16th, but it's even a tad long for his taste.

"You can't reach that hole in two," he said. "You can't reach that hole in two from the forward tee. I don't know why it needs to be 670 with the deepest rough of the golf course. There are going to be people who don't get there in three because they hit it in the rough and the lie is bad.

"The golf hole is a dog leg with the highest rough. I hit driver-driver today and still had, I think, 60 yards to the front. And I hit two perfect shots from the back tee."

TOUGH, BUT FAIR

Much has been made about the difficulty of Olympic's first six holes, but Mickelson said it wasn't that bad.

"Even is a good score. One over is acceptable," he said. "I think it's overrated a little bit in the difficulty. It's certainly challenging, but the way it's set up gives you an opportunity to play them. They're not unplayable, by any means."

The first hole is 520 yards and it's a par-4. It's the third-longest par-4 in the tournament's history.

Perhaps Woods was playing mind games with the field, but he said the first six holes would be rough.

"If you play them for four straight days even par you're going to be picking up just a boatload of shots," Woods said. "They're just difficult."

MEMORABLE MOMENT

Fourteen-year-old Andy Zhang was still grinning after his Tuesday practice round, several hours after shaking hands with Woods, his idol.

"I'm a Tiger fan," Zhang said. "I grew up watching him on TV. When the accident happened (in November 2009) I was, like, really depressed."

AND WE QUOTE

"I hope he's really good and can date my daughter."

-- Michael Allen, the oldest player in the field at 53, when told Zhang would be playing this week.

CHIP SHOTS

Defending champ Rory McIlroy was scheduled to throw out the first pitch Tuesday night at the San Francisco Giants game against the Houston Astros and he made sure he was prepared. "I've been throwing a few golf balls on the course, threw a few medicine balls around last night at the gym," McIlroy said ... This year's field will feature eight amateurs, the fewest since 2002. One of those is 17-year-old Beau Hossler, who is competing in his second U.S. Open in a row ... Ernie Els is making his 20th consecutive appearance in the USGA event.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/PentonKirk


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