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SAN DIEGO – For the first time since 2008, the U.S. Open is back in San Diego.

The event normally draws major crowds, but this year remains at partially limited capacity because of the pandemic. That didn’t put a damper on the spirit at Torrey Pines Thursday.

“It’s been incredible,” said Jason Hackney, one of about 10,000 fans who turned out. “The no mask thing is back!”

Many of the fans came out for the big local names, including Phil Mickelson and Xander Schauffele. It all comes at an interesting time, with new faces in the crowd.

“Yeah, it’s the first tournament I’ve been to,” said Alex Nemerov. He started playing golf during the pandemic and got hooked. Now, he’s taking his new love for the sport one step further. “It’s real nice! We can stand right here next to the tee box watching Phil and Xander tee off.”

For those thinking of coming out Friday or this weekend, make sure you already have tickets because it’s sold out. For those who do have them, take a page out of David Emmerick’s book: come prepared.

“Long sleeves! And sunscreen!” he said. “Do not wear sandals, even if it’s 100 degrees! Bathing suit is fine but no sandals.”