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Wilkinson out to enjoy golf major debut

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/06/2016

Tim Wilkinson will try to have fun on a tough course when he makes his debut in a major golf tournament.

Wilkinson and Danny Lee will carry New Zealand's hopes at the United States Open as they tee off at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania on Friday (NZT).

Defending champion and world No.2 Jordan Spieth has pointed to the challenge the field will face this week, with his prediction that the likely winning total won't be under par.

"I don't think anyone's going to be in the red come 72 holes," the American said.

Wilkinson agrees, saying the rough put a premium on finding the fairways off the tee, while a good touch would be needed on the greens.

"It's a great golf course, very difficult, very demanding," he said.

"But as long as I have fun and can take little bit of stress out of it, it should be a good week."

The 37-year-old left-hander has previously qualified for a major, the 2009 British Open, but had to pull out after suffering a thumb injury that sidelined him for six months.

He will go in with good recent form, having tied for fourth in the Byron Nelson Classic in mid-May.

Lee, who at No.43 is the only New Zealand golfer ranked in the world's top 200, played in last year's US Open, missing the cut.

The 25-year-old described the conditions at Oakmont as "brutal" and stressed the need to stay mentally tough.

"You can't go out there and expect to shoot, like, five or six under," he said.

"You just have to mentally put yourself in grind mode."

Lee has two top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season.

He said he had been hitting ball well off the tee and was happy with his iron play, and he hoped to be able to maintain his ball-striking over the coming four days.

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