The U.S. Open for neophytes

As this edition of La Jolla Light hits newsstands, the biggest sporting event in the city's history is getting closer. Golf's national championship - the U.S. Open - comes to Torrey Pines Golf Course next week, bringing with it plenty of local and national exposure for the jewel city. And while San Diego County is considered one of the epicenters of golf, we know not everybody is knowledgable of the sport. So, for those who don't know a birdie from a bogey or who think a sand save has something to do with the activities at Black's Beach, we present our "Guide to the U.S. Open for Neophytes."

What

The 108th U.S. Open. The tournament is the country's national championship, and is called the "Open" because it is open to anyone who can qualify. Qualifying tournaments are held across the country, although the majority of the players are established professionals, and because of the strict rules for entry and the event's prestige, it always draws a stellar field. The U.S. Open is also one of golf's four annual major championships, the others being the Masters, the British Open and the PGA Championship.

When

Monday, June 9 through Sunday, June 15. Monday, June 9: Practice rounds. Gates open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 10: Practice rounds. Gates open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 11: Practice rounds. Gates open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 12: First round. Begins at 7 a.m. on first and 10th tees, with the last group teeing off at 2:42 p.m. Friday, June 13: Second round, begins at 7 a.m. on first and 10th tees, with the last group teeing off at 2:42 p.m. Saturday, June 14: Third round begins at 8 a.m., with the last group teeing off at approximately 2:50 p.m. Sunday, June 15: Final round begins at begins at 8 a.m., with the last group teeing off at approximately 2:50 p.m. Monday, June 16: If two or more players are tied after the final round, an 18-hole playoff will be contested beginning at approximately 9 a.m.

Where

Torrey Pines Golf Course, South Course.

Torrey Pines is just the second public golf course to host the U.S. Open. This is the first U.S. Open for the 51-year-old track.

Tickets

If you don't have tickets yet, you're a bit behind the eight ball - the event is sold out. But that doesn't mean industrious fans can't find a way in. A call to a ticket broker or an Internet purchase won't break the bank - final-round tickets can be had on Craigslist for $125 each, and a weeklong ticket goes for about $400.

Television

For those who choose to stay home, the Open will be shown on NBC and ESPN on Thursday and Friday, and exclusively on NBC on Saturday and Sunday.

Parking

Because of the overwhelming demand and limited space around the golf course, there is no parking onsite at Torrey Pines. All parking is at Qualcomm Stadium, with shuttles running regularly to and from the golf course. Fans should allow for extra time to get back and forth. Taxi and limousine dropoffs will also be permitted in designated areas near the main admission gate, and will be limited to 15-passenger vehicles and smaller.

Other good things to know

Cell phones and other mobile communications devices are not allowed on the golf course. Cameras are allowed from Monday-Wednesday but will not be allowed thereafter. Before boarding the shuttle buses at Qualcomm Stadium, fans will pass through a security checkpoint and be asked to return these items to their vehicles.

The players

Angel Cabrera is the defending champion. His four-round total of 285 edged Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk by one stroke last year at Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh. Other past champions in the field include Woods (assuming he meets his stated goal of returning from knee surgery in time for the Open), Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Campbell, Retief Goosen, Furyk and Lee Janzen. Local favorite Phil Mickelson should also draw large galleries.

The field will be cut to the low 60 scores plus ties after Friday's play. Players will be paired randomly on the first two days and then according to score on the final two, with the leaders teeing off last on Saturday and Sunday.

How to watch golf

This may seem obvious to some, but watching golf live is not the same as watching it on your couch.

First, expect to do a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes. Second, don't head out to Torrey Pines expecting a reserved seat like you'd find at Petco Park. While there are public bleachers set up at a number of holes with first-come, first-served seating, the best spots to see the action - around the 17th and 18th greens - have already been snapped up by corporate hospitality tents.

With this in mind, there are two general approaches to tackling the golf course and seeing the players you want to see. One is to pick a specific hole and plant yourself there to watch a number of different groups as they come through.

Fans can watch from near the tee or green, or can choose a spot along the fairway to both see the players' drives landing and watch them hitting their second shots. A second approach is to select a specific player and follow him from hole to hole.

For the lesser-known players, this won't be too difficult, and crowds will generally be thin. But if you want to watch Woods or Mickelson, be prepared to battle the throngs. Unless you're 6-foot-7, the best approach to ensure a clear view of at least one shot is to park yourself one or two holes ahead of Woods or Mickelson and wait for him to come through.

Fans can pick up a spectator guide each day of the tournament. Inside should be a course map and that day's tee times.

U.S. Open merchandise

To commemorate the experience of attending the U.S. Open, many fans will want to take home a golf shirt or hat. They won't have any trouble finding those in the USGA's expansive merchandise tents, which is located on the golf course grounds.

More Online

U.S. Open Schedule of Events

Spectator'sGuide

Official Scoring from Torrey Pines

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