Early US Open Form Guide

BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2011 US Open | Preview | 13 Jun 2011

The US Open this week returns to the famed Congressional Country Club in Bethesda in Maryland for the third occasion. The event has been played there previously when Ken Venturi was successful in 1964 and in 1997 when Ernie Els won the second of his two US Opens.

www.iseekgolf.com’s, Bruce Young, who has caddied at Congressional previously and who will be there for this year’s event, takes an early look at the leading players and assesses their chances.

Luke Donald
Donald has developed into one of the game’s most consistent players and, when defeating Lee Westwood at the British PGA Championship two weeks ago, he became the number one player in the world. Donald does not enjoy a great US Open record having not one top ten in seven starts but he is a much improved player. Only one start at Congressional for 13th in 2005.

Lee Westwood
Westwood and Donald vie for the perhaps unwanted mantle as the game’s best player without a major although that could potentially change for either this week. Westwood has again been in great form this season going down narrowly to Donald at the recent BMW PGA event. He has played the US Open well. He is a genuine chance.

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson has one of the greatest non-winning records at the US Open. On five occasions he has been runner-up and regularly finishes inside the top ten. His record at Congressional in the few times he has played the layout is not good but he is good enough to overcome that. His last round of 67 at the recent Memorial indicates that he is peaking at just the right time.

Martin Kaymer
Kaymer might not be at his best of late but he has not been bad. He finished 8th in this event last year in only his second start at a US Open. He might have lost favour in some areas but he is playing well enough and could conceivably add a second major to his name. After all, it was not all that long ago he was the number one player in the game.

Steve Stricker
Stricker, like Donald, has been one of the game’s most consistent players in the past two years. It has been 21 months since he missed a cut on the PGA Tour. Stricker has played well enough on occasions at the US Open and his great consistency and patience will stand him in good stead this week. Stricker finished second at the AT&T event at Congressional in 2007 and featured early in the 1997 Open at the same venue.

Matt Kuchar
Kuchar is in the same league as Donald and Stricker in terms of consistency at present. Eight top tens and no missed cuts this season tell the story. His 6th place finish in this event last year was his best since his amateur days and he has since moved to 6th in the world ranking – an all time high for him. He does not have a good record at Congressional, although he has played an event there on only one occasion.

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy’s length won’t hurt him this week on a golf course which measures the second longest in the history of the event. He imploded at Augusta when in control after 54 holes but he has recovered with several good tournaments since including the recent Memorial. Plays the tough courses well and could feature. Has played only two US Opens, finishing 10th in 2009.

Graeme McDowell
McDowell is the defending champion but this is a very different golf course to that he conquered in 2010 at Pebble Beach. Has given signals of late that his game is improving once again but his third round of 81 at the Wales Open is a concern. Hard to be convinced about his chances.

Dustin Johnson
Johnson has shown a capacity to play the majors well. He led into the final round in this event last year before finishing 8th and blundered on the final hole at the USPGA to lose a chance of a playoff. He is having another good PGA Tour season finishing runner-up at Doral and 4th at the recent Memorial. His chances appear good and his length will assist.

Charl Schwartzel
Schwartzel showed his class with a withering burst to win the Masters earlier in the year. He has played well enough since and finished 16th in this event at Pebble Beach giving his some sort of hope of back to back majors.

Bubba Watson
Watson is a zany creative player capable of winning this event. Interestingly he finished 5th behind Cabrera four years ago at a time when he was only half the player he is now. He has won twice this season on the PGA Tour and although he has played Congressional only once previously and missed the cut when he did he is not the worst of chances by any means. Like Johnson, his length will be a great asset.

Paul Casey
Casey is almost the forgotten man amongst the game’s elite. The Englishman has not played great in recent months but neither has he played badly. He has the game for Congressional but has only one top 10 in eight starts at the US Open. I could possibly see him finishing inside the top ten but not winning.

Nick Watney
Watney is putting together yet another fine season on the PGA Tour with a victory and six other top ten results. He has been pretty ordinary at previous US Opens which is a concern but must be given some sort of chance of a good finish.

K.J. Choi
Choi must be considered for a number of reasons. Firstly he is in fine form having won the recent Players Championship. He is also a winner at Congressional having won the AT&T National in 2007. The only downside is his abysmal record at the US Open. In ten starts Choi has a best of only 15th which is a concern for those who feel his recent form might work in his favour.

Ian Poulter
Poulter is a grinding never give-up type of player who should have a better record at the US Open than he does. In seven starts he has a best of only 12th but he is playing well this season and could conceivably improve on that record this week. Has played Congressional only once for a missed cut.

Jim Furyk
Furyk seems to have lost a bit of form of late. He has a great US Open record with only one missed cut in 16 appearances including his win in 2003. His missed cut at the Memorial did not help but if he has rediscover the form he had earlier in the season and towards the end of last year when winning the Tour Championship then he could yet be a factor.

Jason Day
Day has always been considered one of the great young players in the game and that potential is now being realised. This will be only Day’s fourth major championship and his first US Open but he has already shown that he can mix it with the ‘big guys’. He contended at the PGA last year then went oh so close at the Masters. He has followed up that Augusta form with a 5th place in Dallas and with the batteries recharged there will be much interest in how he debuts in this event.

Adam Scott
It will be a new look Adam Scott when he tees it up this week at Congressional. With a new caddie and the relatively recent switch to the long putter, there is much anticipation as to just how me might perform in an event which until now has not been good to him with a best of only 21st in nine starts. The hiring of Steve Williams for the week should be a great asset but it might be a little early to read too much into that at this stage.

Hunter Mahan
Mahan has been putting together some great tournaments of late and has generally played this event well including when 6th in 2009. He has eight top tens to his name this season and I like his chances at slightly longer odds.

Robert Karlsson
Karlsson has, in recent years, displayed a capacity to play the big events well and has shown of late that his game is close to its best. He was three times inside the top ten in 2008’s four majors and late in 2010 won the huge Dubai World event. He finished 5th at the Colonial and, as this is being written, leads the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis. Whatever the outcome there he appears to be well placed for a big week.

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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.


    Read all of Bruce's articles »

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