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Praise Rolling Over Sandhills After U.S. Open

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PINEHURST — The dedicated labor was worth it. It looks as ifPinehurstmade a very favorable impression with golf fans, players and officials.

Scuttlebutt has it that the resort will get another shot at hosting theU.S. Open, and possibly within the coming decade.

The morning after the Open concluded with Payne Stewart's dramatic win,USGAofficials said this has been one of the best Opens ever.

"Knowing how well this week went, I think in all of our minds it's not if we come back, but when we come back," says Mike Davis, director of champion relations for the USGA.

Davis noted that prior to the event, there had been questions about potential traffic problems or parking difficulties.

However, reality turned out very close to perfection, and people were giving Pinehurst officials credit for a great job in planning.

"Honestly, we wouldn't have changed a thing," says Jon Wagner, Pinehurst director of the U.S. Open. "If you would have told me a few weeks ago that we wouldn't receive a call from anyone about the traffic and transportation, I would never have believed it."

The Open at Pinehurst broke numerous records; attendance was the highest ever, and concession and merchandise sales topped any other Open by early Saturday morning.

"It has been an unqualified success," said David Fay, executive director of the USGA. "We'd have to be out of our minds not to be seriously considering another Open on Pinehurst No. 2."

The USGA does not have a written rotation of preferred courses, but its history has shown the championship returns to certain sites about once a decade.

In the case of Pinehurst, there is speculation that the Open might return in as few as eight years.

The courses that have been in the rotation include Pebble Beach, Calif.; Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y.; and Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa.

The Open last was at Pebble Beach in 1992 and it will return there next year. Shinnecock Hills hosted the tournament in 1995 and will do so again in 2004.


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