Difficult week awaits golf's best at Open
Just about every week on the PGA Tour, players make golf look like an easy game. This is not one of those weeks. The U.S. Golf Association, which runs...
U.S. Open first round, 9 a.m., ESPN
Just about every week on the PGA Tour, players make golf look like an easy game.
This is not one of those weeks. The U.S. Golf Association, which runs the U.S. Open, likes to make this week the most difficult of the year for those fortunate enough to qualify.
Super slick greens, narrow fairways, and typically thick rough will haunt players at every turn of The Olympic Club in San Francisco. And after Rory McIlroy's record setting 16-under at last year's Open, the USGA is in no mood to see a repeat.
"As of right now, I don't like it," reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson said after getting his first look at the course. "I don't want to come out here and shoot 80."
1. Will Tiger Woods win another major?: With his win at the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago, many believe he will. But consider this: He also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March before playing the Masters, where he finished tied for 40th. In fact, the past six times Woods won the tournament before a major he did not win the major. None of that dissuades experts from picking Woods.
Said Hank Haney, Woods' former teaching pro: "I think you have to look and say given his history, given his record, given the way he played last week, you have to say that Tiger Woods would be the favorite to win that tournament."
2. Can McIlroy repeat?: The last repeat champion was Curtis Strange in 1988-89, so history is against McIlroy. And he almost certainly won't match his 16-under total at Congressional last year. McIlroy missed three straight cuts before his tie for seventh last week at the St. Jude Classic. Even though he is only 23 years old, McIlroy has a knack of playing well in majors.
3. Will the winner be seeing red?: Red as in under par. The consensus among players and analysts is that if somebody shoots under par to win, it won't be by much.
4. Will history repeat itself?: The four previous winners at The Olympic Club were lesser-known players who came from behind to beat legends. Jack Fleck beat out Ben Hogan in a playoff in 1955. Billy Casper did the same to Arnold Palmer in 1966. Scott Simpson tracked down Tom Watson in 1987. Lee Janzen came from seven shots down to beat Payne Stewart in 1998.
All of the previous winners at Olympic Club won by either one shot or in a playoff. History says this tournament is wide open.