Form Guide: 2009 US Open
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2009 US Open | Preview | 16 Jun 2009
Bruce Young gives his thoughts on some of the leading chances and why he feels they may or may not be considered.
Woods was brilliant two weeks ago in Ohio and appears to have all departments of his game close to their best and, if that is the case, then the rest are playing for second.
Woods led throughout in 2002 and was the only player under par at the completion of 72 holes. In his last twelve stroke-play events Woods has won six and never been outside the top ten so even though some have been playing down his form, he has continued to play marvellously well. The most likely winner.
Mickelson finished runner up to Woods in 2002 making up five shots on the winner over the final 36 holes. The issue facing Mickelson however is whether he will be able to put aside the serious illness facing his wife and focus on the job at hand.
Winning a major is perhaps the most mentally demanding week in a golfer’s life and if he is able to do win it will be one of the great wins in the history of the game. The task is formidable, perhaps impossible. He struggled in the final round at Memphis which is a concern for his admirers.
Ogilvy gave an indication as to where he is with his game with a third round of 63 at the Memorial two weeks ago and after a brief run of tournaments below his best he now appears back close to it.
The 2006 Champion has won two significant events already in 2009 and if he made this a third then few would be surprised. It is a golf course that should suit his game.
Casey has elevated his game in 2009 to the point where he now stands as the number three player in the game. Wins in Abu Dhabi, Houston and at the BMW PGA at Wentworth in the last four months highlight just how far he has come this year. He was also beaten in the final of the Accenture by Ogilvy further indicating how much he deserves his new status.
Garcia has had his distractions off course in recent months but he has continued to battle away and has hardly missed a cut in twelve months. He seems to have himself back on an even keel now although a poor tournament in Memphis is of concern.
Garcia finished 4th at Bethpage in 2002 but his putting is far from where it needs to be and unless we see a dramatic improvement in that department this week then forget him.
Furyk appears close to winning form. While he missed the cut badly around Bethpage in 2002, he does possess a game built around US Open requirements. Not only did Furyk win the US Open in 2003 but he finished runner up in 2006 and 2007.
Furyk arrives at Bethpage off the back of several very good finishes of late including when runner up to Woods at the Memorial. His putting has been his biggest improvement in 2009, always a benefit at a US Open. To my mind he is Woods greatest threat.
Perry gets the chance to atone for his disastrous finish at this year’s Masters. He has not been as good since the Masters as he was prior and if he won he would be the oldest ever to win a major championship. He has had only one top ten in nine starts at the US Open so the odds are against him but his form early this season was very impressive and his great driving will carry him a long way this week.
Stenson is a little like Casey in that he has taken his standing in the game to a new level in the last twelve months. His win at the Players Championship gave further evidence of his capacity to handle top class fields and quality layouts.
Stenson faces both here and despite the fact he missed three cuts after his win at Sawgrass, he appears closer to winning a major championship than ever before. His record at the US Open is not flash, missing two of three cuts but he is a better player than even right now although a badly missed cut in Memphis is of some concern.
Stricker plays the US Open well when he is in good form and his recent win at the Colonial highlights just what good form he is in right now. He has been inside the top five on five occasions in 2009 and is likely to go on with it.
Interestingly and, at a time when his game was not in anywhere near the shape it is in now, he finished a reasonable 16th at Bethpage in 2002. If it sounds as if I like his chances it is because I do.
Cabrera won this event in 2007 and won the Masters just two months ago. He has fallen off the planet since however missing three of his four cuts in that time. There is much about Cabrera’s game to indicate that he could do well again. He has missed only one cut in nine attempts at the US Open and has a chance for another good week.
Harrington has been tinkering with his golf swing according to him and is now keen to focus on scoring rather than technique. The three time major champion has performed well at the US Open on occasions and did finish 8th at Bethpage in 2002. His ordinary form of late however continued in Memphis with a missed cut.
Els is a two time winner of this event and his recent play gives some hope of another good US Open. Els finished 8th at the Memorial two weeks ago and while his overall form of late has not been to his usual standard there have been enough signs to suggest he could do well.
Singh missed the cut at the Memorial but prior to that was showing signs that his game was returning. Singh has not missed a cut in his last 14 attempts at the US Open, has a best of 3rd and has been inside the top ten on seven occasions.
His recent 6th at the Colonial and his 9th place finish at the Players provide an insight into the fact that he is not as far from where he needs to be than it might appear.
Clark is the grinding, no frills, never give up type of player that often does well at the US Open. He has had a couple of good finishes in this event including when third behind Michael Campbell at Pinehurst in 2005.
His great driving accuracy will be a huge asset around Bethpage despite his lack of length. He has found some good form at present and while still to win on the PGA Tour he stands a chance of a good week. Solid week in Memphis.
Curtis won the Open Championship in 2003 although many felt he may have been a one hit wonder. He has gone on to win two more PGA Tour events since then and importantly in terms of this year’s US Open he is playing very well at present. Curtis finished runner up at the PGA Championship last year and although not a long hitter has the overall game to do well at longer odds.
O’Hair is having a great season, winning at Quail Hollow and narrowly beaten by Tiger Woods at Bay Hill. He also recorded his best finish in a major when 10th at the Masters. With his game’s growing maturity he has a chance for a good week.
Poulter has been another to improve considerably in the last twelve months. His runner up finish to Harrington at Royal Birkdale gave him a great deal of self belief and that has been further confirmed in 2009 with several very good finishes in the US including when runner up at the Players Championship.
Poulter has not done well at the US Open in the past but he is in the best shape of his life now and is well placed to beat his previous best of 12th.
Villegas has actually played a little better than it might seem of late and has played the US Open well in his only two appearances including when 9th last year. He has not done anything outstanding in 2009 but his results have not been too bad. I can’t see him winning necessarily but I can see him having a good week.
Allenby finished 12th at Bethpage in 2002 despite a poor final round and has been in very good form for some time. He hardly misses a cut these days and although he has never finished better than 7th in 50 major championships this could be the year to do so. He had a very good week in Memphis and his quality ball striking will take him a long way this week.
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