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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Who Are Your U.S. Open Picks?

I'm really going out on a limb this week and picking my contenders for the U.S. Open before the tournament actually starts! This is an event of cosmic proportions -- although not predicted by the Mayan calendar -- and I may have some good laughs Sunday night over this post. But these five guys are the ones who, in my bizarre little world, are the favorites, and I've included their odds of winning as posted at OLBG Sports (their odds are from several different bookies in the UK):
  • Phil Mickelson (9:1): I just can't bring myself to bet against Phil this week. He has a good record at Pebble, and I think he learned something at Winged Foot -- namely, that sometimes you have to lay up at the U.S. Open. If he gets off to a good start, I think he's the guy to beat.
  • Jim Furyk (34:1): The quintessential U.S. Open course player. If they have good weather -- and it looks like they will -- his lack of length shouldn't be a problem. With two wins already under his belt this year, he's gotta be licking his chops this week.
  • K.J. Choi (67:1): He's due. Tank has enough power and accuracy -- and patience -- to play Pebble well. Absolutely nobody is talking about him, and I think that's a big mistake.
  • Tim Clark (67:1): I know it's been popular to rip Tim Clark this year. First he had "no guts" because he laid up on a par-5, then he got no love for finally breaking through. But like Choi, ignoring him could be... regrettable; remember, he came close at Augusta a few years ago. As Ben Crenshaw once said, "I got a feeling about this..."
  • Zach Johnson (67:1): Zach has actually been mentioned as a contender... barely. I like his chances if he gets off to a good start.
Obviously I've left off some guys who I think can be there come Sunday, like Dustin Johnson, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, and Ernie Els, and some who I'd like to see there, like David Duval. But unless I'm limiting myself to 5 players, I might as well just post a list of the whole field; pardon the pun, but this tournament is wide "Open."

And no, before you ask, I don't think Tiger will win. Like Augusta, I'm looking for another Top 10 from him, but I don't think he's got his swing back under control yet. I do think Tiger's going to be a good choice for St. Andrews -- he should be back on form by then -- and I'm already on record at the Armchair Golf Blog as picking Lee Westwood to win the PGA at Whistling Straits.

I'd also like to pick Steve Stricker, but I don't think he's completely back from his injury yet. I'm afraid that's going to take a few months; based on the footage I saw of him on the practice tee Tuesday, it looks to me like he may be hitting it a bit shorter than usual. I'm pretty sure that's because he's taking it easy until he's sure he trusts that muscle again.

So who are your favorites?


  1. Recent performance aside, there is always talk of Tiger Woods. Of course, there are the strange people who point to his performance in 2000 as the reason he's the favorite - that's just dumb. He's not the same golfer he was 10 years ago. He was a kid who would and could play "go low" golf on any course in the world. But we've all doubted the guy over the years, only to see him come firing back. If he plays 80% golf with a lot of 2-irons off the tees, he could be there on Sunday.

    Mickelson depends on the weather, but you can't count him out.

    I'm not going to put Westwood in there just because he won last week. He has to be physically drained after 76 holes in that weather.

    I'll be pulling for Ernie Els just because I like Ernie Els.

    This could come down to some of the "plodders" who just keep the ball in play - Furyk, Glover, Zach Johnson. And don't count out a dark horse like a Heath Slocum. The guy has a great wedge game and can putt the lights out.

  2. I'm glad you brought up Slocum. He's another guy who's been coming up the last couple of years but isn't getting any love.

    My only reason for leaving Glover out is that it's rare to defend a U.S. Open title.

  3. Mike,

    PM won't win. He doesn't know how to play safe golf and some of his escape acts at the last Masters is only going to embolden him not make him cautious. If he learned a lesson at Winged Foot, why hasn't it shown in his Open play since then? He missed the cut in 07, and was a non factor in 08, granted PM did finish 2nd last year.

    No PM is more likely to continue his risk taking and it will do in his U.S. Open chances. We're talking the guy who couldn't keep himself from trying to hit Shinnecock's 16 in two in 2 U.S. Open in two, and instead played the hole in 9 or 10 over par for the 95 and 04 Opens. Pavin played it in 1 under par laying it up all 4 days. Course management wins Opens.

  4. We'll see, Bill. Believe it or not, I think the mere fact that Pebble winners tend to be "legends" may inspire him to play like one. Pebble carries an "awe factor" that is only matched by St. Andrews, and I think that it will have a big effect on the outcome.

    That said, I certainly don't see anybody as a lock. I think this setup of Pebble is going to prove to be the one of the hardest tracks they've ever played.

  5. I was really hoping that reverse logic wouldn't pop up...but I guess it was inevitible.