The 111th US Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland kicks off today and the field is without golf’s biggest star, Tiger Woods. Woods’ ailing knee and achilles still hasn’t fully healed and has held him out of yet another major championship. So, instead of the drama filled storylines that go along with the roller coaster ride named Tiger Woods, the focus shifts to who will step up and grab the spotlight. Well, that’s anyones guess at this point, considering there have been 10 different winners in the last 10 major championships. Foreign players have increasingly shown their surge of dominance as well, representing 7 of the last 10 major championship winners and 6 of the top 10 golfers in this week’s latest world rankings. So, let’s shift our attention to the Americans who have a chance to not only win the US Open, but who also have the best opportunity to regain some of the respect lost with the whole Tiger Woods fall from glory.
Phil Mickelson has the best chance to recapture the US Open trophy for the Americans as he has finished in second place 5 times. Lefty, the 5th best golfer in the world rankings, has won 39 PGA Tour events and has 4 major championships. It’s safe to say he’s definitely one of the favorites, but he’s not the only American that has a chance. Steve Stricker, the US’s highest ranked golfer at #4 in the world rankings, also poses a threat to the field. Stricker has not won a major championship in his career yet, but he has placed 5th in two previous US Opens. Matt Kuchar, the 6th ranked player in the world, also has a great shot to win this year’s US Open. He placed 6th in last year’s US Open and as an added bonus he was Andy North’s pick to win as a result of his infamous formula, hey it can’t hurt.
All of us have probably heard of the three golfers mentioned above, but here are some young guns with tons of talent that can rise to occasion and ultimately be the new faces of US Golf. In my opinion, Dustin Johnson definitely has the best chance to take the torch from Tiger, largely in part to his immense amount of talent. The 26-year old ranks 9th in the world rankings and already has 3 top 10 major championship finishes and 4 PGA Tour victories under his belt. Rickie Fowler is another rising star for the US. His flamboyant attire and longing for the spotlight give a great shot to capture the eyes of the public. The 22-year old Fowler turned pro in 2009 and won the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2010. Look for these young faces to make a push in this weekend’s US Open and in major championships to come.
My pick – Dustin Johnson with a score of 276 (-8)
Others to watch – American Bubba Watson, defending champ Graeme McDowell, world #1 Luke Donald, 21-year old Irishman Rory McIlroy, world #2 Lee Westwood, and 18-year old Italian phenom Matteo Manassero