On the eve of the 113 United States Open Championship, it feels like we’ve spent more time this week talking about the weather than we have about the players competing in this week’s major championship. Realizing golf balls are being put in the air tomorrow morning just before 7am EST, I figure it’s about time to shed some light on who you can expect to see in contention on Sunday, or possibly Monday.
Smart Money Bet – Tiger Woods is the overwhelming favorite to win this week and capture his 15th major championship. Can you believe it’s been since 2008 that Tiger Woods won a major championship? It really has been that long. But after four wins in 2013, Tiger Woods appears ready to take the next step in pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major championship victories.
If the Trend Continues – Justin Rose appears poised to join the past four U.S. Open Champions as players to break through as major champions at the U.S. Open. Lucas Glover, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Webb Simpson being the last four U.S. Open Champions who captured their first major at this championship. Rose ranks 7th on the PGA Tour in GIR Percentage, a key metric in deciding a U.S. Open Champion. Accuracy will be at a premium this week off the tee, Rose ranks 20th on the PGA Tour on Fairways Hit Percentage.
TMZ Worthy – Sergio Garcia made mainstream headlines a few weeks ago when attending a celebration for the European Tour, he made discriminatory remarks relating to Tiger Woods. Sergio sought out Tiger on the practice range this week and the two players shook hands, said a few words and moved on. Sergio ranks 2nd in Strokes Gained – Putting in 2013, a statistic that likely surprises many golf fans. Sergio is also one of the top players on tour inside 125 yards and on a golf course where players are likely to be hitting a lot of wedges into greens, his success from this distance will pay big dividends.
Makes For a Great Story – Steve Stricker would be a very popular winner if he were to be able to finally break through and capture a major championship. Stricker’s game appears to fit the examination Merion Golf Club will offer the players. He’s one of the best, if not the best, wedge player in the field. He ranks 2nd in GIR, 13th in Strokes Gained – Putting, 13th in Driving Accuracy and 5th in Sand Save Percentage. Key for Stricker will be handling the long par 3’s at Merion Golf Club. He ranks 162nd on Tour in Approaches over 200 yards.