Thursday marks the beginning of America’s national golf championship, the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. It also marks the first time in recent memory the almighty golf prognosticators of the world have no clear cut “favorite” to win the Open. Gone is Tiger Woods who is still limping both physically and mentally through life. None of the flashy promising young guns like Rory McIlroy or Rickie Fowler have shown the ability to take their game to the next level on a consistent basis. Potential American heroes such as Nick Watney and Dustin Johnson have fallen short in recent majors, while no one seems willing to bet the farm Bubba Watson’s “Bubba Ball” nor the consistently brilliant, but boring Matt Kuchar. And heaven forbid an American prognosticator predicts any foreign player like Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, or K.J. Choi to win.
Therefore the mass media reports that the tournament is wide open and that a winner could come from anywhere in the field. Finally(!), words of wisdom coming for the golf prognosticators gallery (read my post on yearly golf predictions and you’ll understand my reaction).
Not being a believer in golf predictions here are a few tidbits to contemplate while enjoying the 111th U.S. Open (coverage begins at 10am EST on ESPN and Direct TV 701-705):
- Congressional has been home to four PGA Tour events; the Booz Allen Classic in 2005 and the AT&T National from 2007-2009. Of the players who competed in these tournaments and are playing in the U.S. Open, only10 have 2 or more Top 25 finishes at Congressional. Hunter Mahan, Anthony Kim, Jim Furyk, and Robert Allenby all have 3 Top 25 finishes, while Alex Cejka, Ryan Moore, Nick O’Hern, Lucas Glover, Steve Stricker, and Brandt Snedeker each have two. Don’t be surprised if you see one or more of these golfers on the leaderboard at some point during the tournament.
- Phil Mickelson, who has finished second in five U.S. Opens and has been battling arthritis issues in his feet is a sentimental favorite for many fans to win the tournament. However, Lefty has only played in two of the PGA tournaments at Congressional; missing the cut in the 2007 AT&T National (+7) and finishing tied for 29th (-5) in the 2005 Booz Allen Classic. We’ll see if his imporving health will result in improved scoring at Congressional.
- Odds are against last year’s U.S Open winner Graeme McDowell repeating as champion. It’s only happened 6 times in the tournament’s history (Curtis Strange 1988-1989, Ben Hogan 1950-1951, Ralph Guldahl 1937-38, Bobby Jones 1929-1930, John McDermott 1911-1912, and Willie Anderson 1903-1905).
- Thankfully the temperatures in the DC area have cooled down from the recent blazing 90-100 degrees and temperatures should remain in the 80 degree range for the entirety of the tournament. However, there is the possibility of thunderstorm activity as well. If rounds are delayed by weather, golfers in the field with the most patience should be the ones atop the leaderboard on Sunday.
- The greens at Congressional were renovated 21 months ago and are reported to in a somewhat precarious state due to the recent high temperatures, being hard with brown spots emerging on certain greens. It will be interesting to see if the new greens can handle the wear and tear of the tournament.
- Much has been made of the USGA lengthening Congressional to 7574 yards by adding added additional tee boxes on certain holes. However, the USGA has said that the course will only play between 7200-7400 yards throughout the entire tournament. Therefore, length should only be a problem for the “non-bombers” on a few holes each day.
Be sure to check out the official 111th U.S. Open website for tournament information, live video feeds, player statistics, and more.
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