Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 U.S. Open Picks

The US Open golf championship begins today at Bethpage State Park's Black Course, the second visit to the first truly public facility to host the championship. This is a long, mean course that only yielded one subpar finish in 2002.

The course has received lots of rain recently, and they expect a good bit more over the next few days. Unless the USGA moves the tees up (a real possibility), there will be some big scores from familiar names.

Here is my analysis of some of the top players in the world:

Ernie Els: Twice a past champion, his game has not been the same since his knee operation. His recent form is better, though, so he gets a top 25 finish.

Phil Mickelson: #2 player is the fan favorite, and he gets the sentimental vote with his wife's recent breast cancer diagnosis. Golf requires full concentration at its highest levels, and I am not convinced he can block out his personal life. Top 20 finish.

Paul Casey: #3 player has the game for this course, and he already has three worldwide wins this year. I am not convinced he is quite ready to go large on the biggest stages - top 20 finish.

Sergio Garcia: The NY fans rode this whiner's ass in 2002. If he is smart (and I am not sure he is), he will respond to the taunts with some nice gestures to win the crowd over. Dude hits the ball great, but I cannot see a marginal putter winning a U.S. Open. Top 12 finish.

Vijay Singh: Cheater Veej should have already one a couple of US Opens. He is still one of the best drivers in the world, so I like his chances for a top 12 finish.

Jim Furyk: Not many average length hitters have a good chance this year with the length and sogginess, but Furyk is tough as nails. He hits it straight and putts great, so I like him to get a top 10.

Ian Poulter: He showed great heart and breakthrough performances in last year's Open Championship and Ryder Cup. He is ready to hoist a significant trophy...and soon. Top 10 finish.

Geoff Ogilvey: Have you ever noticed he hits his irons so pure that he rarely takes a divot? That can be a good thing on wet fairways. Ogilvy is a real threat to win this weekend (he won a U.S. Open outside NYC in 2006), and I like him for a top 5 finish.

Tiger Woods: #1 player in the world with 17 career majors seems to finally be back at full speed after knee surgery. He played great on a world-class course in his last start two weeks ago, and he is the defending champion. Tiger gets his 18th major (and 15th professional major) to inch closer to Nicklaus' record.

Other dark horses to watch are Sean O'Hair and Angel Cabrerra. Both have the game and demeanor to contend for this title.

The winning number is dependent on the weather and how the USGA sets the course up in response to the weather, but I will go with a My pick for the winning number is 279 (-1).

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