Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Open Notebook

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Open Notebook

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

TEEN SURVIVES OPEN JITTERS

Was Derek Tolan nervous yesterday in his first U.S. Open?

"I was walking funny, I was so nervous," said Tolan, a 16-year-old qualifier from Highlands Ranch, Colo., and the youngest player in the Open field. "I forgot how to breathe."

But he settled down to shoot 8-over-par 78 at the Bethpage State Park Black Course, a score that placed him above PGA Tour winners such as Woody Austin, Tom Kite, Joe Durant, Hale Irwin, Paul Goydos, Bob Estes, Steve Pate and Michael Clark II.

Tolan, who made the Open field with a 50-foot, sudden-death chip-in to beat PGA Tour player Mike Reid and club professional Mike Zaremba in a sectional in Colorado, said the pressure of an Open was all he anticipated.

"It felt like a U.S. Open," he said. "You can't get away with anything. I hit a few errant shots. They were too errant. Hopefully, I can hit it a little straighter. I think I can play well enough to make the cut."

PLAYERS SPLIT ON WORLD CUP

Interest among the players in the U.S. Open for the World Cup is split predictably: Americans are indifferent, while Europeans, South Americans and some of the Asian players are following the matches in Korea and Japan closely on TV.

"I don't know of a single American player who cares," said Steve Stricker.

"It's funny ... my kid's on a soccer team and I love watching him play," said John Cook. "But I really don't sit down and watch the World Cup."

Even Ponte Vedra Beach resident Matt Kuchar, who played soccer into his high school years, admitted that he hasn't watched any World Cup matches.

"My agent is German, and he's up at 4 in the morning every day to watch it," Kuchar said.

Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain said the attitude is the opposite for the international players.

"We all follow the World Cup as much as we can," he said. "Now that Spain has advanced, I'll be paying closer attention."

"When I'm playing late, I'll get up early and watch," said Sergio Garcia, also of Spain. "I'm happy with how [Spain] is doing. …

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