WFAA Sports Blogger
Posted on June 14, 2012 at 10:24 AM
Thursday, Jun 14 at 10:25 AM
The second major of the PGA Tour Calendar year tees off on today from San Francisco at The Olympic Club. Later on we'll get to some of the golfers I expect to succeed this week, my sleeper picks, and the big names who will fail. But first let's take a look at what the course has in store for the field.
The Olympic Club is a Par 70 featuring 61 green-side bunkers but no water hazards. It also features one of the longest holes you'll ever see, with the 670-yard Par 5 16th. In its current state, the course is playing in a manner that will destroy golfers who struggle with accuracy off the tee. Birdies are always few and far between at the US Open, but even more so this week if the golfers' shots aren't placed perfectly. To go along with that, there will also be the typical US Open trends of extremely fast greens and a rough that's thicker than usual.
To top that off, The Olympic Club is a course with many elevation changes, meaning that the golfers will play many approach shots from above or below their feet. Don't be surprised if the winner of this tournament is found at one or two under par.
The players will also need to be ready to go from the opening tee box. The first six holes contain five of the hardest holes on the course. The golfers must be on their game early, and most show patience because a lot of rounds will implode early on without a lot of delicate care.
Rickie Fowler: One of the best ball-strikers on the tour, but even more importantly one of the most accurate players off the tee. He's playing well of late, and I'd expect him to be in contention on Sunday.
Dustin Johnson: He's never missed the cut in the US Open, and he won last week at the St. Jude Classic.
Sergio Garcia: He has made the top 25 in eight of his twelve US Open starts. He's hungry too, still yearning for his very first major.
Lee Westwood: He's made 11 of 12 US OPEN cuts, and won last week in Sweden on the European tour.
Jim Furyk: He's only missed one US OPEN cut, that being at Congressional last year on a course that didn't play like a US OPEN course.
Phil Mickelson: One of the greatest bunker players of all time, so he should have a chance to show off his skills at one of the 61 green-side bunkers. He's finished 2nd place 5 times in the US OPEN. Not my pick to win, but he'll be around on Sunday in my estimation.
Matt Kuchar: He finished 3rd at The Masters and has finished 14th and 6th in last two US Opens.
Graeme McDowell: The 2010 Open champion had Top 20 finishes in 2009 and 2011 so i'm looking for him to continue his trend of solid play in this tournament.
Steve Stricker: One of the most consistent players of the tour, and he's finished in the Top 25 in five of his last six US Open starts.
Luke Donald: On a course where length off the tee isn't the most important factor, I think Donald's short game will hold up better than most at The Olympic Club
Davis Love III: Hard to call him a sleeper as he's historically played well at The US Open, including a 6th place finish in 2010 and an 11th place finish last year.
Jonathan Byrd: He's playing well right now, and his game fits this course description well. He's scored Top 15's in his last four PGA events.
Colt Knost: I don't think he will win or even post a Top 10, but I do think he'll be around on the weekend. He won the US Amateur on this course five years ago.
BIG NAME FAILURES
Tiger Woods: If anybody will prove me wrong it's Tiger. But like Elin, I have a hard time trusting Tiger. What's especially odd is that his putter is actually down on my list of concerns for him. For me, I fear Tiger will struggle off the tee and if you struggle off the tee here, then you struggle overall.
Bubba Watson: The Masters champ struggled two weeks ago in his last event, and didn't participate at all in the month of May. He's not sharp right now.
Rory McIlroy: I do anticipate last year's champ to make the cut, but for some reason i've got a gut feeling that he struggles this week in San Francisco. There's no rhyme or reason behind it, I just think he's not a major player come Sunday.
MY ULTIMATE PREDICTION
Peter Hanson: Remember when Rory McIlroy choked in the 2011 Masters? No? Okay, well he was the leader heading into the final round and he ended up losing. Rory then won the 2011 US Open. This year, your leader after three rounds at The Masters was Peter Hanson. I think form will hold true, and Peter Hanson will be your 2012 US OPEN champion.
Kevin Turner is employed by Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket. He can be reached on twitter @KT1310 or by email at email@example.com. He also wishes to express his love for each and every person that reads this.