Australian chances at Congressional
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2011 US Open | Preview | 15 Jun 2011
Australia’s eleven man contingent at this year’s US Open is not as many as the record number of 14 at Pinehurst in 2005 but with three of those golfers having finished inside the top four at the opening major of the year at Augusta National, their presence has not escaped attention.
Adam Scott became the early story of the week when news broke that he had secured the services of Tiger Wood’s caddie Steve Williams. At a time when most of the players were still arriving into Washington it became big news but other stories have now taken over.
Let’s look at the Australians, some of their background and how they might perform this week.
Jason Day is now Australia’s highest ranked player – and with a bullet as the saying goes. He is playing in his very first US Open but in the three career major championships he has played to date he has made the cut in all three and contended in two. Day has played well in 2011 and has been in contention in nearly every event he has played in recent weeks. Personal issues and a desire for the batteries to be recharged would see him taking the last two weeks off but he has already shown he can handle new situations and this week offers yet another chance.
Adam Scott – has played only sparingly since his superb finish at Augusta National and his results have not been encouraging but that might be reading too much into it. Scott has a poor record in this event with a best of just 21st in nine starts. There is a new dynamic to Scott now though with the long putter now a natural part of his arsenal and he stands a good chance of significantly improving on that record.
Geoff Ogilvy – Has experienced a frustrating season to date with injury but as a previous winner he deserves respect at least. After initially cutting his finger in Hawaii and an enforced break to recover from shoulder injury, he played last week in Memphis and was not all that convincing. While I would not dismiss his chances of playing well it is a little hard to be convinced of his chances of contending.
Robert Allenby – Has played a little better than his results suggest of late. In talking with him yesterday he is more than happy with his game at present highlighted by an encouraging weekend in Memphis where weekend rounds of 67 and 67 had him as the leading Australian. Off course issues have preoccupied much of his thoughts of late but yesterday he seemed focused and ready for the task. This golf course suits his shot shape as his results at Congressional in PGA Tour events have shown. He has finished 3rd and 6th in recent AT&T National events at this fine venue. This is his 14th US Open so he will lack for nothing in experience.
Aaron Baddeley had to qualify for this year’s event in 2010 but this year he has played his way into the field on merit with some very impressive golf. Baddeley led this event into the final round in 2007 before a final round of 80 saw him finish 13th. His form in 2011 speaks for itself confirmed by the win at Riviera. His chances of being the leading Australian are very good.
Nick O’Hern is the type of player who suits US Open courses and vice-versa. He has made the cut in the three he has played to date including a 6th place finish at Winged Foot. He plays this golf course well having finished 3rd at the AT&T National here and while he sneaks under the radar he has chances of a very good week. His form in 2011 is not great but there has been enough to encourage his fans.
John Senden plays his third US Open but does not have a good record in majors generally despite his game in many ways fitting the model required, especially in terms of his iron play. He has been playing some very good golf of late however and might surprise with a good week.
Marc Leishman – has been a bit of a mixed bag this year with good finishes at Bay Hill and Riviera. He has struggled a little since but a very good opening to the Memorial gives him some hope of a good week. He missed the cut in his only previous US Open last year but this is a young man who was rookie of the year on the PGA Tour two years ago and should improve in his second start in this event and his second start at Congressional.
Greg Chalmers – just scrapped into the field via a playoff for one of the final spots in Sectional Qualifying in Dallas. Surprisingly, for a man who played his first major in 1998, this is only Chalmers’ second US Open. He has not played this course in tournament play previously but is playing some nice golf in 2011 including two 8th place finishes earlier in the year and making seven of his last nine cuts. He is a grinding type player and a very good putter which is a great asset in any US Open.
Scott Hend – plays his third US Open and although his preparation has not been ideal he is here and delighted with the chance to play in an event and on a Tour where he wants to be on a more established basis. Hend qualified ten days ago and then rushed to Italy to take advantage of a start at the Italian Open where he missed the cut. He is a strong player, good enough to have finished 3rd in a PGA Tour event several years ago although making the cut will represent a good week for him.
Scott Barr plays in just his second major championship and his first US Open. The Singapore based ACT golfer plies his trade in Asia but gained a start here via Sectional Qualifying in Japan. He was introduced to the course on Monday by Adam Scott and Steve Williams and seemed to soak up everything they had to say. Just to make it to this event is an achievement in itself and, although he will be better for the experience, in talking with him he is certainly not overawed by the occasion.
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