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Hole by hole guide to Pinehurst No. 2

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - Pinehurst's fabled No. 2 Course in North Carolina, widely regarded as Donald Ross's masterpiece design, will host the U.S. Open for the third time next week, 15 years after the major championship was first played there.

Opened as an 18-hole layout in 1907, the course was fine-tuned by Scotland-born Ross several times until 1946. Rees Jones made further renovations ahead of the 1999 U.S. Open and the bunkering was modified in 2004, ahead of the 2005 Open.

The par-70 course has since undergone further renovations by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore to restore it to Ross's initial specifications and it now measures 7,562 yards off the back tees, making it the third longest venue to host a U.S. Open.

Renowned for its inverted-saucer greens, Pinehurst's No. 2 Course has staged several leading tournaments, including the 1951 Ryder Cup, the 1962 U.S. Amateur, won by Labron Harris Jr., and the 1994 U.S. Senior Open, clinched by Simon Hobday.

The late Payne Stewart won the first U.S. Open staged there in 1999, triumphing by a shot over fellow American Phil Mickelson after holing a 15-foot par putt on the final hole.

New Zealand's Michael Campbell clinched the 2005 edition, holding off a final-round charge by Tiger Woods to land his only major title by two strokes.

The No. 2 Course, which will have wide fairways and no rough for the U.S. Open, will host the U.S. Women's Open for the first time just one week later, from June 19-22.

Here is a hole-by-hole look at the course:

No. 1 par four, 402 yards - A relatively straightforward opening hole where a solid tee shot into a narrowing fairway will set up a short iron into a trademark Ross green. Precision is needed for the approach, though, with a miss in any direction likely to roll away from the hole.

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No. 2 par four, 507 yards - A tricky dogleg right where the best line off the tee is to the left despite four bunkers on that side. The green, positioned at an angle, is guarded by a front right bunker and a hump in the front that will likely repel approach shots.

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No. 3 par four, 387 yards - Off the tee, most players will lay up short of the fairway bunker that lurks on the right to set up a wedge approach on this left-to-right hole. The well-crowned green, which slopes from back to front, is protected by three bunkers.

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No. 4 par four, 529 yards - The longest par four on the course will play shorter than its yardage because of the downhill tee shot, which has been restored to the original angle that Ross intended. The large green is receptive to a long approach, and is unusual for Pinehurst with its predominant slope being right-to-left.

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No. 5 par five, 576 yards - A par four at previous U.S. Opens held here, this hole will offer players the chance of 'risk-reward' as the green can be reached in two after a good tee shot, despite a downhill-sidehill lie for the second. However, the upturned-saucer green is the toughest to hit and to putt at Pinehurst.

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No. 6 par three, 219 yards - The first of four par threes is usually played into the prevailing wind. Best option here is a long, high tee shot to give the player the chance to hold a well-contoured green that slopes severely at the front and is guarded by a deep bunker to the left.

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No. 7 par four, 424 yards - The sharpest dogleg on the course where a string of bunkers on the right corner awaits errant drives. A left-to-right tee shot is desirable to set up a mid to short-iron approach into a green protected by a deep bunker on the right.

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No. 8 par four, 502 yards - A par five for club members, this straightaway hole is played as a challenging par four for the U.S. Open. Best line off the tee is to the right of a severely sloping fairway but the key shot is the approach into an elevated green that slopes from back to front.

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No. 9 par three, 191 yards - The shortest hole on the course, this par three has a wide but shallow, two-tiered green. Tee shot selection is critical with bunkers guarding the front and back right of the green. Any tee shot long and left will bounce away and likely lead to a bogey.

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No. 10 par five, 617 yards - The longest hole on the course is reachable in two only by the big hitters and most players will lay up with the second shot to leave a short approach into a raised green which is protected by two bunkers and slopes subtly from left to right.

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No. 11 par four, 483 yards - The first in a run of four daunting par fours, this slight dogleg-right hole is one of the more demanding on the course, featuring a semi-blind drive zone with left-to-right slope. The green has treacherous left-side pin locations on a hole reputed to be golfing great Ben Hogan's favorite par four.

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No. 12 par four, 484 yards - An accurate tee shot, to the left of middle, is needed to avoid two fairway bunkers on the right. The approach shot requires precision into a fairly small green with subtle breaks that has a sharp drop-off at the back.

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No. 13 par four, 382 yards - A deceptively short, dogleg-right that is difficult to birdie with plenty of danger provided by an elevated, well-bunkered green. Any approach short of the green will leave a difficult recovery.

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No. 14 par four, 473 yards - Best line off a raised tee is down the right side of the fairway to avoid a bunker on the left. The green, which slopes severely from back-to-front, is surrounded on all sides by swales and is difficult to hold. Any approach hit long is to be avoided.

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No. 15 par three, 202 yards - Two of the last four holes at Pinehurst No. 2 are difficult par threes, and this one demands a tee shot into one of the smallest greens on the course. A par here is a good result with deep bunkers lying in wait to the right of a severely-crowned green.

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No. 16 par four, 528 yards - Players favoring the left side off the tee on this dogleg-left will likely receive a forward bounce down the hill to set up an approach into a green with a severe back-to-front slope. Stewart holed a downhill 20-foot putt to save par here on his way to victory in 1999.

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No. 17 par three, 205 yards - This picturesque par three, protected by four bunkers, also featured prominently at the 1999 U.S. Open with Stewart holing out from five feet for birdie to take a one-shot lead down the last. The large green is fairly receptive to tee shots, though a fall-off area lurks to the front and left.

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No. 18 par four, 451 yards - A superb finishing hole that plays uphill and slightly left-to-right. A tee shot left of middle will set up a mid-to-short iron into the green, where a deep swale to the right can kick approach shots well beyond the putting surface. Stewart saved par here in 1999 by rolling in an uphill 15-footer to clinch his second U.S. Open title. A statue behind the green celebrates his victory pose.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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