MAMARONECK, N.Y. - If home-course advantage in golf meant as much as home-court advantage does in basketball, Andy Svoboda would be feeling pretty good heading into the week. He is, after all, the only player entered in the U.S. Open who has logged 2,000 rounds at Winged Foot, the course where the toughest test in golf begins Thursday. Svoboda is one of 77 players who made it to the U.S. Open via qualifying. He was one of 18 to qualify at the sectional in Summit, N.J., the same place where Michelle Wie missed out. But while most of those qualifiers will come and go quietly, Svoboda will certainly draw his share of support this week. The 26-year-old estimates he's played 150 rounds a year at Winged Foot since he was 12. He has won the club championship four times. He made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur on the course two years ago, then turned pro and has come up short at Q-school the last two years. He is on the Hooters Tour, where he ranks 84th on the money list, with earnings this year of only $4,600. The USGA, as usual, is setting up the U.S. Open course to be a bear. Svoboda, who has seen it on good days and bad, isn't intimidated at the site of his course in a less-forgiving state. In defense: Michael Campbell enters this year's U.S. Open as a defending champion, a much different status than last year when he was making a decent living, but hardly making himself a star, on the European Tour. How does he feel about his chances this year, as compared to last? "It's the same," Campbell said. "Last year, I thought I was hitting the ball pretty well and giving myself chances. I feel the same this year." Because of last year, it wouldn't come as a shock if Campbell won this year, even though he hasn't been doing much winning of late. His best finish this year is a tie for fifth last month at the British Masters. Coming into last year's Open at Pinehurst, he had three top-10 finishes. Left behind: Because of the U.S. Open's limited field of exemptions and large number of qualifiers, many familiar names and some PGA Tour regulars won't be at Winged Foot. Among those who failed to qualify are John Daly, Joe Ogilvie, Jeff Maggert, Justin Rose, Kirk Triplett, Jonathan Kaye, Craig Parry, Joe Durant, Jesper Parnevik, Kevin Sutherland and Jason Gore. Rose played well enough to get into a playoff at sectional qualifying, but he didn't think his score would be good enough when he finished and left town before the playoff began.
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