2003 US Open Form Analysis
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2003 US Open | Preview | 10 Jun 2003
www.iseekgolf.com’s analyst Bruce Young is also the golfing major’s form guide analyst for Centrebet and the New Zealand TAB. In the following rundown, Bruce analyses the form of the leading chances and that of the Australasian players in the field.
The Olympia Fields Golf Club, just outside of Chicago, will host the 103rd US Open Championship, when 156 golfers line up at the Golf Club’s North Course this Thursday, June 12th.
Of those who have made the final field, 73 will have earned their way into the event via their performances throughout the world over the past twelve months, or by winning major championships in recent years. Of the 7820 players who originally entered the event, approximately 7750 will have had to endure either regional or sectional qualifying, or both, to secure one of the eighty three spots available to those not already exempt. When you consider that the event is only open to players who are either professionals or with handicaps of 1.6 or better, then it highlights the incredible standard of golf it takes just to make the tournament.
The par 70, 7180 yard Olympia Fields layout has staged several significant events. In 1928 the US Open was held there and in 1925 and 1961 Olympia Fields was the venue for the USPGA. It has also staged the Western Open there on several occasions, the last time in 1971. The US Seniors Open was held there in 1997.
Opened in 1925, the North Course at the multi course complex was designed by Willie Park and has regularly held a place in the top thirty courses in the USA. At 7180 yards it is not desperately long by modern course standards but is still one of the longer courses in recent times at the US Open. In fact last year’s venue, Bethpage Black, is the longest at 7214 yards. Length however has never been what the US Open is all about. It is a tournament designed to test every club in the bag, along with every aspect of a golfer’s capacity to cope with adversity which will surely come his way at some stage on courses set up to create such. Everything points to this course fitting very much into that category. Narrow fairways long rough, tall mature vegetation, heavily contoured and fast greens. There are many accidents that are waiting to happen this week and it will be those who can avoid them, or recover quickly, who will prosper.
Tiger Woods defends the second of his two US Open titles but as we saw at the US Masters, there is no such thing as a certainty at this, or any level in tournament golf.
Has a great record at the Open with two wins in 2000 and 2002. Has not finished outside the top twenty in seven US Open starts since turning pro. He is again the man most likely but if there is a question mark, it is his lack of tournament play since his 15th place at the Masters. He was 29th in Germany and in his only other event since, at the Memorial, was fourth after a rather ordinary third round of 76. He did storm home with a final round 65 there however and as there has not been any golfer since Jack Nicklaus, to prepare himself better for majors than Tiger Woods, it would seem he knows what he is doing re his preparation
Like Woods a two time winner of the US Open, the last in 1997 at Congressional. Since then however his US Open form has been a little disappointing except for his second at Pebble Beach in 2000. Since his sixth place at the Masters he has had good finishes at Hilton Head and Houston then, following a three week break to allow his wrist injury to heal, was fourth at the Volvo PGA in Britain. At last week’s Memorial, he was solid if not spectacular, when 13th. Seems close to his peak again.
Five top tens in nine starts at the US Open suggests the USGA course set up suits his style of play. He is in great form at present with five top tens in his last six starts this season including a win at the Byron Nelson and second place at the Wachovia Championship. A last start fourth at the Memorial has him heading for Olympia Fields full of confidence no doubt. Can go very close to winning this year and add to his PGA and Masters titles.
A family tragedy has meant an enforced layoff for Davis in recent weeks and as a result is playing the FRB Capital Open where he has made the cut and finished well. A three time winner already this season but has not played since his 29th placing at the Wachovia Championship. Fourth in 1995 and second in 1996 are his best finishes at the US Open but has missed only three of fourteen cuts in this event. Seems now however to have a greater capacity to finish events off compared to earlier in his career.
Seems to have disappeared from the radar screen somewhat of late. Since his great start to the 2003 season, which included a third place at the Masters, he has not played great, 13th at the Colonial being his best in his last four starts. Missing the cut, albeit narrowly, at the FRB Capital Open has not helped either, although he did miss the cut the week before his third at the Masters this year. He cops a lot of flack for his apparent inability to win a major but his record shows that he has gone close more often than most. At the US Open he has produced four top tens in his last five starts including second places in 1999 at Pinehurst and again last year at Bethpage. Following his normal pattern Mickelson played this past week at the FRB Capital Open but missed the cut, albeit narrowly.
Appears to be timing his run into the US Open nicely. Returned from a three week break after his Masters victory with an 18th place finish at the Wachovia Championship and then third place at last week’s Memorial after a final round 65. Ensured he would not be overtaken by the demands of being Masters Champion by limiting his schedule since and certainly has the type of game to do well here. Three starts at the US Open for 16th, 19th and a missed cut last year. Is clearly a much better player now with even greater self belief. Has the tough sort of competitor instinct so necessary for a US Open.
One of the game’s most improved players and one of the best players without a major to his name. Has a reasonably good record at the US Open with just one missed cut in seven starts and was fifth last year at Bethpage. He is in good form at present, including second at the recent Benson & Hedges and a win at the Deutsche Bank SAP Open on the European Tour. He was a solid 13th at the Memorial last week and has easily made the cut at the FRB Capital eventually finishing 13th. Amongst the Europeans, he appears to have the best chance here.
Until Sunday at the Memorial I would have considered Furyk a reasonable chance here to do well here. His form this year after all has been quite something, ten top tens in thirteen starts is an outstanding level of consistency. His Saturday round of 75 at the memorial was understandable given the conditions but his final round 76 was most ’unFuryk’ like although his bogey, double bogey start had him on the back foot from early in the round. Perhaps we can forgive him for one bad tournament. Furyk played well early in his career at the US Open but of late not so good, in fact 60th has been his best in his last three starts.
After surprisingly missing the cut at the Volvo PGA two weeks ago, Goosen bounced back with a tie for seventh place last week at the Memorial. He was 3rd at the Deutsche Bank event in Germany three weeks ago, 13th at the Masters and 3rd the week before that at the Bell South. He won the US Open in 2001 and was 12th in 2000 but apart from that has missed the cut at his three other starts in this event, including last year. Now has a belief that he is one of the better players in the world and should be thereabouts at Olympia Fields.
Considering the player that he is, or perhaps has now become, David Tom’s performances at the US Open have not been all that impressive. He was 45th last year, 66th in 2001 and 16th in 2000 and prior to that, in three other starts, had not made the weekend. Toms withdrew from the Colonial two weeks ago with a bad back but prior to that had found form after a slow start to the year. It is true he did finish 2nd at the Match Play but until the US Masters where he was 8th, his regular tournament play until then this season had been ordinary. He then won the Wachovia Championship and was sixth at the Byron Nelson. His recent withdrawal from the Colonial with a back problem is of some concern as it has happened before.
The hottest player in golf right now with brilliant wins at the Colonial and the Memorial. If he hasn’t peaked too early he may well be in the thick of things. In six starts at the US Open his best has been 25th but with his current form and that he hits so many fairways and greens, he may yet be a serious contender here.
Three top twenties in last four starts at the US Open but 12th the best. Playing very well with 9th, 2nd and 11th placings at his last three starts this season, not to mention his win at the Honda earlier. One of the best putters on the tour, in fact is number one in putting at present, which is always important at the US Open especially here and his lack of length will not necessarily be the factor here that it is on a less strategic golf course.
The last few months have seen good if not great form from DiMarco and in his last two US Opens he has the finished 16th and 24th. He has shown himself to be a good performer in the majors missing just one cut in the twelve he has played. Is a good accurate player and a good putter so may be a place chance. Has finished 10th at the Capital tournament in his final lead up.
Has made the cut in six of seven US Opens including 10th at Pinehurst in 1999. Recent good efforts at the Deutsche Bank SA P Open (8th) and the Volvo PGA (14th) have him in good form. Is playing in this week’s British Masters where he has made the cut and finished very strongly.
Allenby should have done better in majors than he has. His best finish is tenth at last year’s PGA and in the 1997 British Open. If he can work out a way to get over that hurdle he has a chance of doing well but there seems to be a block there. He withdrew with a stomach complaint at the Memorial but is playing the Capital where he just made the cut and finished 55th. He was third at the recent Byron Nelson but is hard to have, given his form in the majors.
This might just be the type of course to suit Price. It is not overly long but is very strategic in its design, offering plenty of risk and reward. There are not many better thinkers in the game than Price and he is in fine form at present with a fifth at the Wachovia, a second at the Byron Nelson and a 21st at the Colonial. He would, if he was able to get up and win, become the second oldest golfer to win a major but he is playing almost as well as ever at present. This is probably his third best major in terms of performances in majors after the PGA and the British Open but there have been some good efforts here including his 8th place last year.
In eight US Opens his best is 30th so despite his high world ranking and the things about his game that should make him a better performer at the US Open (he is accurate from tee to green), I’ll be leaving him out of my calculations. He has had a good run this year including his 2nd at the New Orleans. He safely made the cut at the Capital Open finishing 35th.
Just three top tens in nineteen starts at the US Open and his last six starts in this event have seen three missed cuts and 16th his best. He has however found a new lease of life. Has not played the last few weeks but two starts ago won the Houston Open. Might struggle with his accuracy here.
His missed cut last year was the first time in seven starts at the Open that he has done so. Only once outside the top twenty in the other six and how will we ever forget his three putt at the last in 2001 to miss the playoff. Has found some form of late too with four top tens in his last eight starts this season. Sixth at the recent Memorial and was brilliant in qualifying for this event. Is a very good long shot chance.
Charles Howell III
18th last year and missed the cut in 2001. Nothing special in recent weeks, apart from his seventh at the Wachovia, after a very good start to the season. Hard to have at this stage of his career but there is every chance that he will be regularly contending for events such as this in years to come. Faded badly after a good start at the FRB Capital Open
his amazing return to form at the FRB Capital Open has quickly brought him back into calculations for the event. Three top tens in his last fives starts at the US Open suggests that at his best he can contend but it is a matter of whether that recent display of form can hold up. He missed the cut last year at Bethpage but it was about then that things made a turn for the worse. Has missed seven of his last nine cuts but his 62 at the TPC of Avenel suggests he has found something. Might be a bit much to expect a continuation of the Capital form after so long out of contention.
his best in eleven starts at the US Open has been 15th in 1986 with only two other top twenties. Has shown an ability of late to play the big events well however finishing 8th at the TPC and the Masters and followed that up with a 3rd place at New Orleans and 4th at the Byron Nelson. Is a very accurate driver and good putter, both huge assets this week.
Until the British Open last year where he was runner up and apart from his fourth place at the 2000 USPGA, Appleby has struggled to produce the form in the majors that he has displayed in USPGA Tour events. He has played the US Open six times for three missed cuts and tenth place his best. His form of late has been patchy with a second place in Houston surrounded by missed cuts. An eighteenth place last week at the Memorial was better and he has just made the cut at the Capital Open but fired a last round 65 to boost the confidence
Has made the cut at both his US Open appearances and his fine eleventh placing last year at Bethpage was even further highlighted by his recovery from a triple bogey in the last round. Has the game to win a US Open, given that it is built around hitting plenty of fairways and greens, and his last round 69 at the Memorial shows that his game is building to a peak.
Missed the cut in his only US Open start last year but has shown that he has the game for the majors with good performances at the Masters last year and the USPGA. Might not be quite ready to win an event of this stature but in future years may well do so. 20th at the recent Volvo PGA and a reasonable 29th last week at the Memorial.
Tough gritty competitor who has only missed one cut in tens starts at the US Open with a third place in 1993 the highlight. Not in great from at present however, having missed three of his last five cuts and twenty fifth his best placing in ten starts this season. Finished 50th at the FRB Capital. Chance to make cut here but difficult to see a high placing.
finds himself here via his efforts on the European Tour last year where he won the Linde German Masters. Just the one previous appearance at the US Open when he missed the cut in 1999. Much improved player over last twelve months but this is another level again.
has only played in two majors (British Opens) and missed the cut in both. Seems to be finding a much greater level of consistency but he will need to have for the task ahead this week. A couple of good top ten finishes six weeks ago but has missed his last two cuts.
Gained one of the last spots in the field via the delayed qualifying on Wednesday. Has played only the one major championship previously, that being where he led after round one at the 1999 Carnoustie British Open only to miss the cut. He is a much better and more experienced player now. After a good start to the season in 2003 however he has now missed his last five cuts so despite his significant success in getting a start he will struggle here it would seem.
Has rebuilt a bit of confidence over the last two weeks with better performances back on the European Tour. Was 12th at Pebble Beach in 2000 but it is hard to back him given his efforts in the US this year.
Managed to get a spot through qualifying on Monday which was an achievement in itself and after his good year in Japan last year, has the game to now look at making the cut. That is likely the best result he can expect. He is a solid, steady player, the type that typically does well in a US Open but this is many levels higher than the fields he faces in Japan and elsewhere.
Another who gained a start through qualifying. Waite has struggled with his game both in the few starts that he has had on the PGA Tour and those on the Nationwide Tour. He has played the US Open just the four times with 36th at the Congressional his best effort. Hard to see much better this week and his missed cut at the FRB Capital does not add any confidence.