Weekly Preview - U.S. OpenGreg Vara RotoWire.com Golf Writer
The second major of the year is upon us, and unlike the leadup to the Masters a couple months ago, no one seems to have any idea how this will play out. Now, even though we all thought we knew who would win the Masters, the eventual winner, Bubba Watson, was quite a surprise. It wasn't always like this, though. The PGA TOUR changed immensely with the arrival of Tiger Woods in the mid-'90s, and for a long while the game became more predictable. That, however, is not the case now. The PGA TOUR of today more closely resembles the sport we witnessed in the late-'80s. Instead of three or four players in the mix each week, it's 30 or 40. Instead of only a handful of golfers with a chance to win a major, more than a quarter of the field has a legitimate shot. That unpredictability makes the leadup to this U.S. Open a little less exciting perhaps - an expected showdown between Tiger, Rory and Phil had everyone drooling prior to the Masters - but once the first tee is in the ground Thursday, that simply won't matter: this is the U.S. Open, and the man lifting the trophy Sunday might not even be on your radar today.
This week: U.S. Open
Players to Consider:
McIlroy is not at the top of his game, but he showed a little something last week in Memphis and might be ready to turn his game up another notch. He'll certainly need to this week.
Woods was in this exact position prior to the Masters, coming off a win in his most recent start leading up to the event. We all know how that turned out. That said, Woods certainly knows how to get around a USGA layout, and, as of now, his game is sharp.
Schwartzel has been a little off this season, but he looks to be in good position to strike this week. He was similarly under the radar entering the 2011 Masters. Schwartzel seems to be comfortable on U.S. Open layouts, which could lead to his second major victory this week.
It feels like many people are giving up on Westwood winning a major championship, and that's usually the time when it finally happens. Westwood has a couple top-5s on his U.S. Open resume and could very well add another this week.
It's easy to overlook Dufner this week. After all, it's been a few weeks since his most recent win, and his track record at the U.S. Open is nothing to brag about. But he's one of the best players going at the moment, and he proved his mettle at the PGA Championship last year, so we know he can handle himself on a tough layout.
Players to Avoid:
Na has been under the spotlight a couple times this season, most notably for his inability to pull the trigger on his shots a few weeks ago, but this week he'll likely start and finish out of the limelight as he's really struggled on the USGA layouts the last two years.
As is the nature of the events where the venue differs from year to year, it's certainly possible that a player who's struggled on multiple layouts can succeed on a random course, but the odds are against it. Watney has struggled nearly every year at the U.S. Open, and there's no reason to think this year will be different.
Day was the runner-up at the U.S. Open last year, as well as the Masters, but his game hasn't resembled that form at all this year. His game is better now than it was earlier this year, but he's still too far off to contend this week.
Yang tied for third last year at the U.S. Open, but his play isn't at that level now. Yang already has a major victory on his resume, so we know he's capable of coming up big at a major, but it's not in the cards this week.
Johnson has the type of game that would seem to fit USGA layouts perfectly, but for some reason he's never fared well at the U.S. Open. His best Open finish came last year when he tied for 30th. And let's not forget about his performance last week either.