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June 16, 2014

US Women's Open players arrive at Pinehurst No. 2

US Open notebook

PINEHURST, N.C. — In the final group at a major for the first time, Rickie Fowler was on the putting green about 45 minutes before his tee time with six other players.

All were women.

Defending U.S. Open champion Justin Rose was walking over a bridge when he passed another player headed to the practice range. Rose stopped and turned his head. It was Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden.

Sunday at the U.S. Open was unlike any other.

Even as the men were wrapping up their championship, the women arrived to prepare for the U.S. Women's Open — the second half of an unprecedented doubleheader at Pinehurst No. 2.

"It's cool to run into the girls," Rory McIlroy said. "I would like to see it happen more often. I think it's a good thing. I think it's a good thing for women's golf to give them a little bit more exposure. ... I'm going to tune in on and watch next week just to see how they get on around here and see how they fare."

USGA officials had expressed hope for some cross-promotion between the events. They got that, from Natalie Gulbis taking swings at the driving range to Sandra Gal watching German countryman Martin Kaymer in the final men's group.

"I hope putting them back-to-back works out," Phil Mickelson said. "All of the execution from the USGA's side gets cut in half. You only have to do it once instead of twice, and hopefully they will be able to make it more profitable and put more money back into the game."

The U.S. Women's Open begins Thursday.

PERKS: Brooks Koepka made a birdie on the final hole that will take him a long way. He wound up in a tie for fourth, earning a spot in his first Masters next year. Erik Compton will join him at Augusta National as a runner-up.

The top 10 and ties don't have to worry about qualifying for the U.S. Open next year. Koepka and Compton both had to go through sectional qualifying this year.

Everyone else in the top four — and the top 10 — should already be safe for both majors.

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