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Local entry Farren just soaks in the experience

Sean Farren came prepared.

"Check this out," he said, showing the side pocket of his golf bag filled with Sharpies, the autograph pen of choice for those golfers who need such accessories.

Farren, the 39-year-old head pro at The Creek Club in Locust Valley, had just finished his first official practice round of this year's U.S. Open, his first. And aside from the huge number of well-wishers for Long Island's only "local" in the tournament (he's from just outside Pittsburgh), Farren was trying to treat it like another tournament.

And failing, quite happily.

"I'm sure I'm scaring some of these guys, because I feel like I know 'em all. I'm just a golf nut and I watch it a lot," Farren said. "The only real advice I got was, 'Don't overdo it, pace yourself.' But how can you not, though?"

Farren played all 18 holes yesterday, the front nine with pros Lucas Glover and Dustin Johnson, the back with 2004 British Open champ Todd Hamilton. It's not like Farren needed to see the Black Course again - he played Saturday and Sunday here - but getting to go around with his wife Lisa and a few friends inside the ropes was special.

"You don't want it to get too serious today," he said. "You know it's going to get pretty serious on Thursday."

Another way to keep things from getting too heady for Farren is getting to sleep in his own bed all week. Of course, with the comforts of home come the responsibilities, too. "Gotta take out the trash, keep the kids fed," said the father of three, ages 8, 10 and 12.

Of the damp Black Course, Farren said it was "extremely long but fair.

"The rough is actually playable in spots," he said. "I'm not a grip-it-and-rip-it type of player, but it's pretty good for that kind of guy. These guys will be able to hit out pretty easily the way it is now."

After signing a few dozen autographs, Farren was coming down the chute off the 18th green behind 2003 U.S. Open champ Jim Furyk. After posing for pictures and talking to a few well-wishers, Farren was still a bit giddy. "There's nothing but bogeys and double-bogeys out there," he said, pointing at the course.

As for his bag full of Sharpies and a host of familiar faces? "That's the fun part," he said. "It's the stuff away from the course that's going to make this a tremendous week."

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