Faldo has never played Shinnecock Hills and is looking forward to it. David Leadbetter, his swing guru, has calculated that the average wind there is 28 mph, which he thinks is perfect for Faldo. "Everybody else has been saying, 'Oh, this is the one for you. This is the one,' " Faldo says. "I hear it's linksy and blows a gale. Sounds wonderful."
For most of the year, Price has been the victim of the demands of his newfound fame and fortune, born of winning nine tournaments and three majors in the last three years. After missing the cut at the Masters and at Houston, he decided to take off three weeks to clear out his mind, regain his desire and get his swing back on track, specifically eliminating what he considers too much lower-body movement. He returned to Colonial two weeks ago, finishing with a strong 66 for 12th place. At the Memorial, he again closed strongly, with a 65 that put him into a tie for 10th, and was encouraged.
Price has only had two strong U.S. Opens, a tie for fourth at Pebble Beach in '92 and an 11th at Baltusrol in '93. Like Faldo, he has never seen Shinnecock, but likes what he hears.
"From what people say, it's the kind of course that allows a variety of shots, a little like Pebble Beach," says Price. "I'm starting to get some of the same penetration on my irons that I had in the last two years. With the wind blowing at Shinnecock, that will be vital. I'm starting to get my confidence back."
Chances are no one will arrive at Shinnecock with more confidence than Norman. The Memorial was his first tournament after a six-week break, one of the longest of his career. In April, Norman withdrew from the Heritage with back spasms, but after he recovered a week later, he decided that he would gain more from being mentally fresh than from playing in tournaments. "I don't want to play as many as I used to," he says. "That was so much of the secret of Nicklaus's success. He paced himself, but when he played, he was ready."
Despite only a week of practice at Medalist, the course he designed near his home in Jupiter, Fla., Norman came to the Memorial ready, and after playing the Kemper Open this week at Avenel in Potomac, Md., he intends to reach Shinnecock the same way.
"I remember one thing about Shinnecock," says Norman. "It's a course where you really have to use all your weaponry."
At the moment, nobody has more. And if he goes there and brings home a U.S. Open, he will still any further talk that he can't finish.