Wednesday, June 11, 2008

US Open Preview

Grandslam is an ass, who is "too busy" even though he wanted to write a weekly golf preview. I haven't heard from him in like two months, but I can't very well let a US Open go by without at least a small preview, so here we go.

As far as a recap, Either Justin Leonard or Robert Allenby won the ST. Jude classic last week, I think. I don't remember for sure.

This week, the best golfers in the world head to California to play Torrey Pines for the U.S. Open. What makes this an especially interesting circumstance is that Torrey Pines hosts the Buick Invitational every year, and it's a rare thing for a course to show up twice in a season. Of course, this weekend will be very different, with the rough going from regular to swampland lenght, and the greens going at lightspeed. With the course being lengthened as well, there will be a lot of long irons coming in and trying to stop on those greens, and expect scores to be more like the +5 that has won the Open the last two years instead of the -19 Tiger won the Buick with earlier this year.

Speaking of Tiger, he's the clear favorite here yet again, despite the knee surgery. All he needs is some of Bud Kilmer's magic juice, and he's up and going. He hasn't played a competitive round in months, but it's awful hard to bet against him. He's won six times at Torrey Pines, including the last four Buicks, and is a Majors' horse. Still, he hasn't been able to really practice until this week, and the headlines are less than inspiring. I've seen "Tiger plays 9" from Monday and this morning "Tiger plays 17+ with a cart." I don't really get the 17+ thing. Did he just quit on 18? Hit one into the woods and decide not to track it down and pack it in? It's not smart to bet against Tiger, but I'm not going with him here.

The other favorite here is Mickelson, the #2 in the world, and who also has a handful of wins at Torrey. He's playing very well right now, with two wins on the season, and other than a missed cut at the Pebble Pro-Am, no worse finish than 23rd in a tournament. Mickelson has all kinds of struggles in US Opens, however, missing the cut last year (albeit with a wrist injury) and collapsing on the 72nd hole in 2006 to lose to Geoff Ogilvy. That being said, he's the best golfer in the world without injury concerns right now, and is playing well, so he's probably the smart bet.

That being said, my pick for the week is Sergio Garcia. If you've read the scroll bar above, I've called this the year of the Sergio after he won at the Players. He finished fourth at the St. Jude last week, and looks to be in good form. He's still having some struggles with the putter, his big weakness, and hasn't played well at the US Open in the past, missing the cut the last two years, but after getting to a playoff at the British last year and winning the Players, I think he's ready to make a big step forward and get his first Major victory.

A few quick sentences on some other guys:

Adam Scott: The number three player in the world. Even worse than Garcia in US Opens, and nursing a hand injury. Nope.

Ryuji Imada: Kind of a trendy pick right now, based on his win at the AT&T last month, his runner up finish at the Buick this year, and a 12th place finish at the US Open two years ago. It's a pretty strong case, but I really don't think previous play at the Buick will have much baring on play at the US Open here. The course is going to be vastly different. Still, he could surprise.

Jim Furyk: Runner-up at the Open the past two years, will this be the year he wins his second one? He's not playing all that great this year, but it's possible.

Justin Leonard: Is he back to his old form that lead to a 1997 win at the British Open? He just won the St. Jude last week, and is having a great year with five top 10s already. I think he's back and back strong. Should be in contention this week.

Stuart Appleby: My sleeper pick for the week. Appleby looks like a smaller, gayer version of Hulk Hogan, but he can play some golf. Hasn't had much success at the US Open, but may have started turning that around last year, finishing 26th after missing the cut seven of the previous eight times. Started the year off hot and has cooled down a bit, but is still playing well. If you put any stock in Buick Open statistics, Appleby finished 8th there this year.

Mike Weir: Another solid sleeper. Plays very well at the US Open (3-4-42-6-20 the past five times) and finished second at the Memorial his last time out.

Anyone I didn't mention won't win. Especially not Stewart Cink.

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