It's that time of the year again. Another golf major is on the horizon. This time, it's the U.S. Open, this year being held at Bethpage State Park (Black Course) in Farmingdale, N.Y. Bethpage last held the U.S. Open in 2002, when Tiger Woods won by 3 shots. The U.S. Open is notorious for being played on the hardest courses and having some of the hardest set-ups. Most years, the winner is the only one under par. In other words, it is a true test of one's physical and mental skills. A good U.S. Open golfer is one that doesn't make many mistakes, but when they do, they don't linger on it. Instead, they re-focus and get ready for the next hole.
So now, just like the Masters, I am ready to make some predictions on the U.S. Open. I will admit, my predictions for the Masters didn't pan out. I picked Tiger to win but he never really was in contention. But we all are allowed a swing and a miss right? Anyways, after doing my research, I am ready to give you my Top 10 contenders to win the 2009 U.S. Open.
10. Phil Mickelson - It's been a tough few weeks for Lefty, nothing more tough than his wife Amy being diagnosed with breast cancer. After looking at his performance this past weekend in Memphis, I don't have much faith in his game right now. And in the U.S. Open, which willd demand so much mentally, I'm not sure if he's up to it right now. But he is the #2 player in the world and seems to always be in the running in the U.S. Open (4 runner-up finishes, including in '02) so it's hard to count him out despite the red flags.
9. Dustin Johnson - The Columbia, SC native has quietly been having a great 2009 season. He won at Pebble Beach and has added 5 other top-20 finishes. He is a long hitter, which bodes well for Bethpage. He also is very streaky, so if he gets going, look out. He finished a respectable -1 at his first Masters so I think he'll be just fine playing in his 2nd U.S. Open.
8. Brian Gay - I think you have to be crazy to not have him on this list. He may be the hottest golfer on the Tour right now. He's coming off an impressive win in Memphis and has now won two tournaments in 8 weeks. He has an incredibly solid game, which will be important this week. The big question will be how will his game stick up against the best field he's ever played against.
7. Sergio Garcia - He hasn't had the best start to his 2009 season but if it's a major, you have to consider Sergio. I still consider him the best golfer to have yet to win a major championship. He played well at Bethpage in '02, finishing in 4th, including rounds of 69 and 68. He definitely has the game. It's just a matter of putting it all together.
6. Paul Casey - Don't look now but he's now the 3rd-ranked player in the world. And for good reason. He's having an amazing 2009 season. He's 8 for 8 in made cuts with 6 top-25 finishes and a win at the Shell Houston Open. He has a calm demeanor too, which will serve him well.
5. Kenny Perry - He hasn't played in an U.S. Open since 2006. He finished 45th in the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage. But Perry still has to be considered a favorite. He's a long-hitter, great putter, and always maintains a positive attitude. His play at the Masters proved he can play on the big stage, despite his age.
4. Jim Furyk - He's having a great season. He has 7 top-15 finishes, including top-10 finishes in his last 3 events. He finished in a tie for 10th as the Masters. He's also a previous U.S. Open champ, winning back in '03, so he's been there, done that. He fared horribly in '02 but I'll forget about that. He's playing too well these days to not be on this list.
3. Steve Stricker - This may surprise you but hear me out. He finished tied for 16th in '02. He has 10 top-25 finishes this season, including a playoff victory at Colonial. He finished 6th at the Masters, which is impressive and is the 8th ranked player in the world. But most importantly, he is 4th in scoring average on Tour 3rd in putting. Those stats tell me he's got game and if he can keep his head in the game as well, he'll be a contender.
2. Geoff Ogilvy - He's a former champ, winning back in 2006. He also is a two-time winner on Tour this season. More importantly than all of that though, he flat out can play golf. He is tops in birdie average and 2nd in scoring average this season. He hasn't missed a cut in 12 events and seems to always be in the hunt when the majors roll around. Expect another great performance from him this week.
1. Tiger Woods - Who else? After watching him win the Memorial, I have no doubt that Tiger can win this tournament. Consider the facts. He won the last time the U.S. Open was held at Bethpage. He won last year's U.S. Open on one good leg, and it took 90 holes to do it. He's a 14-time major winner and has won twice since coming back from extensive knee surgery, proving he's more than capable of winning this week. He let me down at the Masters. Let's hope he makes me look good this week.