Spectators at the U.S. Open had better keep their butts off Torrey Pines Golf Course: No smoking allowed.

To both the delight and indignation of the gallery, the 108th Open starting today will be golf’s first smoke-free major.

“Woo-hoo!” hollered Jill Kulper, of Sacramento, attending the tournament with her husband and young children. “Now we don’t have to move away from a good spot when somebody starts smoking a stogie.”

Never mind that golf and cigars go together almost like cake and ice cream. Spectators caught smoking — cigarettes or cigars — face up to a $100 US fine.

“I sympathize with them. I don’t think it’s fair,” Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, one of the European Tour’s top players and a cigar aficionado, said after puffing his way through a practice round yesterday.

“I don’t see what’s the problem. Why not make everyone ride a bike here instead of driving their cars? We’re in open space. I thought we were supposed to have freedom to do what we want.”
Well, he does.

The U.S. Golf Association sought exemptions for everyone, including spectators, at Torrey Pines after San Diego officials banned smoking at its beaches, city parks and municipal golf courses in 2006, said Reg Jones, managing director for the U.S. Open.

The city rejected that request but did agree to exempt the players, their caddies and others inside the ropes that keep spectators off the course.

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