Since Tiger Woods’ sprained left knee and Achilles tendon forced him to bypass the U.S. Open, which starts today at Congressional in Bethesda, Md., we are free again to discuss some other names of interest.
All have a legitimate shot at surviving the tweaks and twists the USGA traditionally throws into its Open courses to make this tournament one of the most agonizingly challenging events on the pro golf calendar.
Lefty left out
Phil Mickelson is arguably the best golfer in the field who has never won a U.S. Open. Three green jackets, representative of the Masters championship, sure. But remember the ’06 Open at Winged Foot when, needing just a par on 18 to win, he butchered his way to a six for his fourth of a record five runner-up finishes? That’s the kind of luck he’s had at the Open. Maybe today’s opening round falling on his 41st birthday will bring him the luck he’s been looking for.
Anyone venturing down to Congressional might want to catch the 8:06 a.m. start on the 10th tee. That’s when Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer, ranked Nos. 1, 2, and 3 in the world, respectively, begin the first of two rounds as a threesome. It’s the first time such a high-ranking trio has been put in the same group since 2008, when Woods, Mickelson and Adam Scott went around at Torrey Pines. Obviously, all have a shot.
Making the cut
Last year’s champ, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, missed the cut in four of his last eight tournaments and lost a one-shot lead at the Players Championship. A week of relaxation in hometown Portrush before hitting Florida for a weekend of intense training could mentally re-charge him for a run at becoming the first man with consecutive Open titles since Curtis Strange (1988-89).