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British champ Lawrie withdraws from Open

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 13, 2000


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- A groin injury has knocked Paul Lawrie out of the U.S. Open. The reigning British Open champion withdrew Monday morning. The injury occurred several weeks ago, and Lawrie hopes to defend his British Open title next month at St. Andrews.

Don Pooley, a veteran of 11 U.S. Opens, will take Lawrie's spot in the field. Pooley was an alternate from sectional qualifying in Rockville, Md., where he was eliminated in a 13-for-12 playoff June 6.

His last Open appearance was two years ago at the Olympic Club, and his best finish was a tie for 15th in 1985.

Lawrie never has played in the U.S. Open.

COLD WOES: John Huston never has been a big fan of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, played each year in late January or early February. But that has nothing to do with the course. "I've never been a real cold weather person, and the weather can be pretty rough that time of year," said Huston, a life-long Florida resident.

Huston, who lives in Safety Harbor, never has fared particularly well in the U.S. Open but tied for 17th last year at Pinehurst.

"I wasn't playing all that well, and it was a hang-in-there type of deal," he said. "That was a totally different U.S. Open course. The rough wasn't so high but the greens were really severe.

"At Pebble, if the weather is good and the rough isn't that high, it's not a hard golf course. And I don't think they want that. I would be surprised if the rough wasn't pretty brutal."

NO ENTRY: Participants at the Masters typically look forward to their drive down Magnolia Lane, the entrance to Augusta National. Only 250 yards, it is some driveway.

But those playing at Pebble Beach are treated to a far more stunning entrance, one that can be 17 miles long. Seventeen Mile Drive meanders through the Del Monte Forest and winds past such golf venues as Spanish Bay, Poppy Hills, Spyglass Hill, Cypress Point and Pebble Beach.

This week, however, it is closed to the public because of the Open. Only homeowners and those with special credentials can enter 17 Mile Drive, which on normal days costs $7.50. Spectators for the tournament will be shuttled in from remote parking lots.

CHAMPIONS DINNER: The U.S. Golf Association is expecting a strong turnout for tonight's U.S. Open champions dinner. Among the former champions confirmed are Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Ken Venturi, Tom Kite, Johnny Miller, Curtis Strange, Fuzzy Zoeller, Tony Jacklin, Tommy Bolt, David Graham, Lou Graham, Lee Janzen, Steve Jones, Larry Nelson, Andy North, Corey Pavin, Jerry Pate, Ernie Els and Scott Simpson.

The only players not attending are Ray Floyd, Lee Trevino, Hubert Green, Gary Player and Gene Littler, who have Senior PGA Tour commitments.

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