Major time is once again upon us, this week we are in San Francisco at The Olympic Club for the seasons second major, the US Open. As with previous majors, there is a lot of hype and debate around the outcome of this event, and who should be considered favourite with various other story lines thrown into the mix to ensure this years US Open will be as exciting as last years.
A hot topic recently has been, of course, the form and mental approach of defending champion and world no.2 Rory McIlroy. McIlroy of late has been out of sorts, missing three straight cuts and last week surrendering his opportunity to win while leading on the 18th tee of The St.Jude Classic; finding the water off the tee and making a double bogey six to finish down the field in seventh. I made a prediction a few weeks ago that McIlroy would not finish in the top 5 of the US Open, and I still stand by that prediction.
A lot has also been made of “return to form” of Tiger Woods following his victory at The Memorial a few weeks ago. In that victory we saw all that was missing from Woods’ game for the last while, accuracy off the tee being the main positive. This allowed him more options with his second shots. In my eyes, there was calmness and control to all aspects of his game and, for me, his performance at The Memorial event, along with the test of the course, will have served as perfect preparation as he goes in search of major number 15. Lastly, we also saw that his confidence is back to where it was with his outrageous chip shot to birdie the 16th at The Memorial on his way to victory.
As we know there are many other sub plots that are setup perfectly going into the US Open. As like many times before, many people will be hoping for Lee Westwood to break his major duck, and his convincing victory at last weeks Nordea Masters will have given his followers renewed hope that this could his time to step into the major limelight. The same can and will be said for Luke Donald, another yet to secure a major win. His supporters will be optimistic that, given his accuracy and short game which should be well suited to this course, he could cement his standing as world no.1 with a major title to his name.
These are the types of subplots / opinionated debates that I think are great for golf fans worldwide. All of us will have a different view of these various situations, which guarantees excitement for us all.
In truth there could be realistic cases made for 10-15 players to win the title at this years US Open, and as always I will give my top 5 players to watch out for. Fingers crossed the winner will be in there somewhere!
- Tiger Woods – Given his renewed confidence and composure in his swing, he could be ready to get back on the major trail after a long wait by his standards.
- Luke Donald – His accuracy and short game will give him a chance to contend, whether or not he can stand up to the major burden pressure remains to be seen.
- Justin Rose – Has been in terrific form on the PGA Tour, and he will relish this test. Rose could sneak under the radar when all English eyes will be on Donald and Westwood.
- Francesco Molinari – A straight hitter and regarded as one of the worlds best from tee to green, his putting has been coming on which if hot will put him in the ideal position to get in amongst the leaders.
- Jason Dufner – His game is showing great consistency at present and nothing seems to faze him. He has all the attributes to go close this week. The pressure of challenging for a first major come Sunday afternoon is a totally different ball game to your regular PGA Tour events, but he has been there before (losing in a playoff to Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship) and has tasted victory already this year, so this could well be his time.
Some big names have been left out of my Top 5, but I think form is all important going into this week and those with any holes in your game must beware, The Olympic Club course promises to expose them.
Don’t forget to follow Keith on Twitter for updates in the lead up to, and throughout the US Open – @Jinkyt15.
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