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U.S. Open Preview | May 2003

Course/Year Inverness, 1979
Winner Hale Irwin
Score Even (284)
Comment Only Irwin met the challenges of Inverness's towering rough, narrow fairways and fast, tricky greens. He won by two despite a 40 on the home nine.

Course/Year Shinnecock Hills, 1995
Winner Corey Pavin
Score Even (280)
Comment Contender and eventual runner-up Greg Norman managed only one birdie in the last two rounds as Atlantic winds, waving rough and dried-out greens took their toll.

Course/Year Olympic, 1998
Winner Lee Janzen
Score Even (280)
Comment Perfect weather, but thick rough and the slick, sloping greens inflicted damage. "The course won," said Payne Stewart, who finished second.

THE TOUGHEST MAJOR

The USGA's rationale for making U.S. Open courses difficult is to identify the best players, but by that standard the Open takes second place to the Masters. That may be because the smaller Masters field, typically only 80 or so competitive players under age 50, eliminates the possibility of long-shot winners like Rich Beem at last year's PGA and Paul Lawrie at the 1999 British Open (both over 200 in the world rankings at the end of the prior year). But even correcting for that by reducing all high rankings to 80, the Masters still prevails.

THE MASTERS
Winner and His World Rank
1995 Ben Crenshaw 33*
1996 Nick Faldo 6
1997 Tiger Woods 33
1998 Mark O'Meara 10
1999 Jose Maria Olazabal 25
2000 Vijay Singh 7
2001 Tiger Woods 1
2002 Tiger Woods 1
Average world rank of winner 14.5

U.S. OPEN
Winner and His World Rank
1995 Corey Pavin 10
1996 Steve Jones 189 (80)
1997 Ernie Els 4
1998 Lee Janzen 36
1999 Payne Stewart 27
2000 Tiger Woods 1
2001 Retief Goosen 38
2002 Tiger Woods 1
Average world rank of winner 24.63

BRITISH OPEN
Winner and His World Rank
1995 John Daly 73
1996 Tom Lehman 11
1997 Justin Leonard 29
1998 Mark O'Meara 10
1999 Paul Lawrie 241 (80)
2000 Tiger Woods 1
2001 David Duval 3
2002 Ernie Els 4
Average world rank of winner 26.38

PGA
Winner and His World Rank
1995 Steve Elkington 38
1996 Mark Brooks 107 (80)
1997 Davis Love III 9
1998 Vijay Singh 15
1999 Tiger Woods 1
2000 Tiger Woods 1
2001 David Toms 23
2002 Rich Beem 281 (80)
Average world rank of winner 30.88

* World rank at end of previous year. Ranks higher than 80 are adjusted down to compensate for the smaller Masters field.

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