FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) – A brief look at the 109th U.S. Open, which starts Thursday:

Site: Bethpage State Park (Black Course).

Length: 7,426 yards.

Par: 35-35-70.

Format: 72 holes of stroke play.

Cut: Top 60 and ties, and anyone within 10 strokes of the lead after 36 holes.

Playoff, if necessary: 18 holes of stroke play on Monday.

Field: 156 players (141 professionals, 15 amateurs)

Purse: TBA ($7.5 million in 2008).

Winner’s share: TBA ($1.35 million in 2008)

Defending champion: Tiger Woods.

Last year: Woods won his third U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, making a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force an 18-hole playoff, then beating Rocco Mediate in 19 holes. It was his 14th career major. He had season-ending knee surgery a week later.

Last time at Bethpage Black: Woods opened with a 67 on his way to a wire-to-wire victory. He had a four-shot lead going into the final round, three-putted the opening two holes and saw his lead cut to two shots by Phil Mickelson on the back nine. Woods reached the 13th hole in two for a birdie and closed with a 2-over 72 for a three-shot victory.

Key statistic: Phil Mickelson has never finished worse than fourth in his four U.S. Opens held in New York.

Noteworthy: The U.S. Open is the only major Tiger Woods has failed to win in consecutive years.

Quoteworthy: “We’ll stay here until we get a champion.” – Jim Hyler, USGA chair of the championship committee, on the forecast for rain and the USGA’s refusal to let players lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

Thursday’s tee times: Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington, Angel Cabrera, 8:06 a.m.; Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, 1:36 p.m.

Television (all times EDT): Thursday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ESPN; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., NBC Sports; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., ESPN.


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