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US OPEN NOTEBOOK

Watson, Weekley on a roll

SERGIO GARCIA Birdie-less 79 SERGIO GARCIA Birdie-less 79

OAKMONT, Pa. -- There is annual proof the gentlemen in blue blazers and bow ties have a sense of humor. Check out their clever tee times.

The 7:11 a.m. pairing in yesterday's first round was especially good, since it put together those good ol' boys from the Florida Panhandle, Bubba Watson and Boo Weekley. The fact they shot 70 and 72, respectively, made for an even more enjoyable morning for the longtime friends after so many years on the mini-tours.

"For us, we're not big with these bright lights and everything and these big tournaments," said Watson, who is two shots off the lead. "So for us to be able to talk and see a familiar face, it's fun."

Ferociously long, Watson got rattled right away when marshals allowed patrons to cross in an area he expected to hit, even if others didn't.

"I let it get to me. My caddie made fun of me and said, 'Look, this is your problem right here.' He got me focused back," said Watson, who had four birdies and four bogeys.

At 28, Watson is playing in his second US Open, having missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills in 2004. Weekley, 33, is making his debut in the championship and is four shots off the pace. They are both in their second year on the PGA Tour, and while Weekley broke through for a victory at Hilton Head, S.C., in April, Watson has already made more than $1.2 million in prize money in 2007.

For kids from Panhandle towns called Bagdad (Watson) and Milton (Weekley), it's impressive stuff.

"Every day we step on the PGA Tour, we've come a long way," said Watson. "We think about it every week."

As for his driver, which has a pink shaft, Watson smiled.

"If I outdrive you with a pink driver, you can't make fun of me," he said.

Rough going for Doyle
It was no more than a foot off the fairway, but it was worth perhaps four shots in the wrong direction for Norwood, Mass., native Allen Doyle. When he tried to advance his second shot at the 484-yard, par-4 18th, Doyle sprayed it right, which led to a quadruple bogey. "You've got to drive the ball better here," said the US Senior Open champion after his round of 81 that was a series of good holes with some he'd rather forget -- a three-putt double bogey at the par-3 eighth, a double at the par-4 14th, and that closing hole. Though he's 58 and seven years older than anyone else in the field, "it's a huge deal" to be here, he said. "If you don't play well, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth." . . . Geoff Sisk of Marshfield, Mass., made two birdies coming home, but he made a double bogey at the par-4 10th and finished bogey-bogey to shoot 77 . . . Rhode Islander Brett Quigley came home in 40 to shoot 78.

Mad Spaniard
A trio of Spaniards went off at 7:55. By early afternoon, one wore a frown -- Sergio Garcia. The 27-year-old was one of 28 players who failed to make a birdie, and a pair of double bogeys on his outward nine led to a 79. Jose Maria Olazabal (70) and Pablo Martin (71) fared much better. If you factor in Garcia's two rounds at Winged Foot last summer, he's 25 over in his last three rounds in the US Open . . . Masters champ Zach Johnson opened with a 76 and a scorecard free of birdies. "I'm not doubting my preparation. I'm not doubting my game plan," he said. "But I might have been here too early."

Practice makes perfect
Tom Byrum holed his second shot at the par-4 ninth, though it didn't count. That's because it was on the putting green, which is an extension of the green at No. 9. Byrum, who shot 73, was given a free drop and made par . . . Ben Curtis is an avid Cleveland Browns fan, but business is business. He has a clothing deal with Reebok and wears the NFL colors of the local team at golf events. Here, that means the Pittsburgh Steelers, but if it bothered Curtis, who shot 71, he didn't show it. "They think I'm a Steelers fans," said Curtis . . . Only two eagles were made, both on par 4s. Stuart Appleby (74) holed out at the 11th, Michael Block (79) at the 14th.

Jim McCabe can be reached at jmccabe@globe.com.

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