The U.S. Open golf tournament is the second tournament of golf’s majors and is the showcase tournament of the USGA. It is also a true “open” tournament where golfers can qualify by playing in local qualifiers and then section qualifiers provided they have a USGA Handicap of 1.4 or better.
The U.S. Open is traditionally one of the hardest course set ups. A premium is placed on accurate driving as the first cut of rough on the fairways is very deep. Greens are lightning fast and surrounded by difficult bunkers. Traditionally, the U.S. Open winner has a 72 hole score somewhere around par. There are exceptions of course. In 2000, Tiger Woods finished with at 12 under par at Pebble Beach. Last year Rory McIlroy finished 16 under par to win at Congressional. Conversely, the U.S. Open winners in 2006 and 2007, Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera both won the U.S. Open with 5 over par. Most U.S. Open winners are within five shots of even par. Expect the competition committee to make the Olympic Club as difficult as possible after McIlroy’s 16 under win last year.
This year’s 112th U.S. Open will be held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Ca. Past Open winners at Olympic include Lee Janzen, Billy Casper, and John Fleck. Not exactly a who’s who of golf! The story really centers on how and who they beat to win. John Fleck defeated Ben Hogan in a playoff in 1955. Arnold Palmer led by seven shots with nine holes to play in 1966 and lost to Billy Casper in a playoff. In 1998, Payne Stewart started Sunday with a four shot lead and lost to Lee Janzen.
The favourites to win this year are Tiger Woods, fresh off his win at the Memorial last weekend, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. McIlroy win have a big test as he has missed three cuts so far this year. Rounding out the first flight of favourites are Masters winner Bubba Watson, Player’s Champions Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott. The golf gods aligned for a dream pairing on Thursday’s opening day of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson and Bubba Watson.
This year’s Open hole to conquer will be the sixteenth, playing 609 yards with a long, sweeping right to left draw. To go for the green in two requires more luck than skill as the front of the green is protected by a bunker and a bunker to the right.
To fully enjoy this year’s U.S. Open, make sure you take a jacket. The Olympic Club sits on a peninsula of land just south of the Golden Gate Bridge at the edge of the Pacific. Two miles to the east is San Francisco Bay. The weather can be surprisingly cool for June. But most importantly, enjoy the experience of witnessing golf’s greatest players become the Open Champion.
By Julie Bowman