Saturday, June 9, 2012

2012 US Open Predictions: From The Olympic Club in San Francisco

Well, it is finally US Open week.  Players from all over the world have worked hard to hone their game for our National Championship.  This year, the tournament heads to The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.  The course last played host to the US Open in 1998.  After the ease that Rory McIlroy seemed to have finishing -16 last year at Congressional Country Club, many believe the USGA will set up the course to play extremely difficult.  Already, the course will play longer due to the heavy air in San Francisco.  Many shots will play longer than they would in desert air or on other courses.  The fairways will not run out as far.  Some have even labeled the first six holes as the hardest opening holes in golf history.  Fairways slant away from doglegs, making tee shot placement even more of a priority.  So who's gonna come out on top?  And who's gonna surprise?


Winner: Tiger Woods
I just think Tiger Woods' game is better than it has been in years.  At the Memorial Tournament, Woods was able to win without hitting driver on many of the holes.  And at Olympic, he will not need to hit driver on every par four or five to win.  He can hit 2 iron or 3 wood off many tees and still have a mid iron into most of the greens.  His iron play is also excellent right now.  If Tiger can continue to putt like he has during his two wins this season, I think he will win his 15th major and go into the Open Championship as the clear favorite.

Contender: Luke Donald
World number one Luke Donald is still looking for that elusive major championship trophy.  After winning the money titles on both the PGA and European tours last season, and winning twice already this year (once on both sides of the ocean), Donald's play is still in top form.  The Olympic Club is not overly long and accuracy will be paramount off the tee, which should fit right into Donald's plan.  If Donald can keep the putter going and hit enough fairways, look for him to be right on top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Contender: Lee Westwood
A perennial pick at every major, Lee Westwood is looking to shed the moniker: "Best Player without a major."  Switching this past week to new irons (Ping I20s) and a new putter (Ping Nome), Westwood is fine-tuning his game for a run at this major championship.  But putting is where he'll need to excel in order to win.  One of the best drivers of the ball, Westwood struggles mightily when it comes to the flat stick.  But all it will take for him to win is to have a good putting week.  Look for him to be right there when all is said and done.

Pretender: Rory McIlroy
After a torrid start to the season, Rory McIlroy has fallen off a bit lately.  Missing 3 straight cuts after a T40 in The Masters, McIlroy is struggling with some swing changes.  He is contending for the win this week in Memphis, but I don't think his game is in the shape it needs to be for a US Open title defense.  He will probably make the cut and stay right in the top 20, but I don't think he will be in play for a second major title.

Others to watch:
Rickie Fowler: 4 straight top 10s and another strong tournament (The Memorial) derailed by a final round 84, Fowler is at the top of his game right now and his style of play fits right in at Olympic Club

Davis Love III: Love III has qualified for the US Open and hopes to make a strong push for a high finish.

Casey Martin: Martin qualified for his first US Open since 98 at The Olympic Club.  He will be playing in a cart due to a leg ailment.

So who do you think is going to pull it off?  Watch for more coverage and insight coming from The Olympic Club throughout the week.

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