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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My 5 for the Open

Yes, once again I take keyboard in hand to make a fool of myself and pick my favorites for the U.S. Open.

As usual, I'm going a bit against the grain with some of my picks. With all the rain at Merion, the commentators have been making guesses at how a wet course will affect things. Are the long players now favored, as they can hit shorter clubs and not worry about roll-out as they would on a dry course? Or are the shorter players with flatter ball flights now favored, as they can hit longer clubs without fear of roll-out?

I'm basing my choices purely on gut feelings. For example, although Rory McIlroy has demonstrated an ability to play well at majors despite struggling at regular events, he's had too much trouble with the short clubs for me to feel he has a particularly good chance.

Likewise, Phil Mickelson seems to be playing pretty well... but I simply don't believe he's emotionally capable of playing a strategic game at Merion. Phrankenwood is going to break loose from the lab and go on a rampage because Phil isn't satisfied with any win that doesn't require heroics.

So here are my five favorites to place their names next to Jones and Hogan as winners at Merion:
  1. Tiger Woods: No shocker here, eh? He has four wins this season already, and his poor play at Jack's Place is meaningless to me. Why? Because, whether we remember it or not, Tiger Woods is a human being. That means he's going to have a bad week every now and then... but I don't think this week will be one of them.
  2. Graeme McDowell: A wet Merion must be like a wet dream for Graeme. (Gosh, that's a disturbing image... but I'm leaving it in.) He's been playing well most of this season and just got a win at the RBC Heritage. (Isn't that a short course too? I'm just saying...) I really like his chances this week.
  3. Matteo Manassero: I know the kid hasn't played particularly well on this side of the pond this season, but you can't say the same about his play in Europe. He's leading the Race to Dubai, he just won the BMW-PGA (the ET equivalent of THE PLAYERS) and followed that with a T4 at the Nordea Masters a week ago. Merion is going to play more like a European course this week, and that will suit him just fine.
  4. Matt Kuchar: He's #2 in my Ruthless Golf World Rankings for a reason. Other than Tiger, he's the only player with 2 PGA wins this season -- a WGC and the Memorial. And, lest we forget, he posted a 2nd at Colonial the week before the Memorial... and didn't Hogan win there as well? I'm just saying...
  5. Sang-Moon Bae: Didn't see this one coming, did you? Moon got his first win just a few weeks back at the HP Byron Nelson and, while he's been a little erratic this year (okay -- a LOT erratic) I think he could do well on this wet Merion course. He definitely counts as a flyer (I think Boo Weekley, Lee Westwood, or Zach Johnson are all better bets) but the conditions at Merion are perfect for a dark horse winner.
So there they are, my 5 for the Open. And with even more rain falling there, this is shaping up to be a most unusual tournament!

BTW, just a quick note in reference to an earlier post: Mike Weir DID make it into the Open. Way to go, Weirsy!

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