2013 U.S. Open Golf Preview

2013 U.S. Open Golf Championship
Thursday, June 13-Sunday, June 16, 2013, TV: ESPN, NBC
Merion Golf Club East Course – Ardmore, Pennsylvania
Par 70 – 6,846 yards
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Defending Champion: Webb Simpson

Tiger is a heavy favorite to win his fourth US Open at Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia.

Tiger is a heavy favorite to win his fourth US Open at Merion Golf Club outside of Philadelphia.

The US Open Golf Championship returns to Merion Golf Club just outside of Philadelphia for the first time since 1981 and the fifth time overall. When David Graham won the event in 1981, many thought the 6,500 yard course was too short to even host a major again. The course was situated on only 126 acres which made it very cramped for the galleries. However, after the club acquired some land and lengthened the East Course to almost 7,000 yards, the course hosted the 2005 U.S. Amateur. The USGA awarded the 2013 US Open to Merion.

Merion was the site of Ben Hogan’s win in 1950 sixteen months after a serious car crash that left Hogan with a shattered pelvis. Hogan would win an 18 hole playoff despite battling severe back pain. Merion also hosted the Open in 1971 when Lee Trevino beat Jack Nicklaus  also in a playoff. Bobby Jones won the US Amateur Championship here in 1930 to complete the then grand slam in the same calendar year.

Merion is one of the quirkiest courses in the country. First of all viewers will notice that instead of the normal flagsticks that mark the hole locations, Merion uses wicker baskets on metal sticks. Also, a couple of holes share tee boxes because of the cramped space. There is also the matter of the road players will have to cross between the 12th and 13 holes. There is also a commuter train that arrives in regular intervals right by the clubhouse. Because of the layout, golfers will tee off in groups of three for the first two rounds  from the first and eleventh tees.

Merion will reward accuracy off the tee more so than length, but their are some drive-able par 4′s. Like most US Opens the rough is designed to punish players who hit into the very long grass. Recently the area has been pounded with rain so that will soften up the greens considerably. There is a 60% chance of severe thunderstorms in the afternoon for Thursday’s first round.

Here is a look at some of the favorites and contenders and some head to head match-ups I like with odds courtesy of Bookmaker.

Tiger Woods (11/2) 

Tiger has only played 8 events this season but already has 4 wins, including at the Player’s Championship. He finished tied for 4th at the Masters. Two weeks ago at the Memorial, an event Tiger had won 5 times previously including in 2012, Tiger inexplicably had one of the worst 4 round performance of his career. He would shoot +8 including 2 triple bogeys.

Tiger has 14 majors and 3 US Open titles. It has been 5 years since Tiger triumphed in the US Open at Torrey Pines in a playoff over Rocco Mediate, also Woods’ last major of any kind. Tiger leads the tour in adjusted scoring and the all-around. If he plays like he did in his four wins, then Tiger has a great shot of ending his major drought. However, was his awful performance at the Memorial an anomaly? If not, Tiger could struggle to make the cut.

Tiger is -205 to beat Rory McIlroy (his playing partner along with Masters champ Adam Scott for the first two rounds) and -240 to beat Phil Mickelson. I like Tiger to win both of those match-ups.

Graeme McDowell (16/1)

McDowell has 2 wins in his last 4 starts including the RBC Heritage and the Volvo World Match Play. He won the US Open in 2010 at Pebble Beach and tied for second last year.

McDowell always has the game to contend at the US Open. Merion will be no exception. McDowell is -115 against Brandt Snedeker and -102 against Luke Donald. I like McDowell to win both of those.

 

Phil Mickelson (18/1)

Mickelson has a win at Phoenix this season, plus 3 other top 5′s including a tie for second at the FedEx St. Jude last week. Mickelson has never won the US Open before but has come close several times with 5 runner-ups and 9 top 10′s.

Mickelson will attend his daughter’s high school graduation  in San Diego Wednesday evening before flying back to Philadelphia for his 7:14 AM Eastern tee time Thursday.

This course doesn’t really suit Mickelson because of his aggressive driving. I don’t see him contending this weekend.  He is +190 against Tiger and +110 against Justin Rose. I don’t like him in either of those match-ups.

Matt Kuchar (18/1) 

Kuchar is second in the FedEx Cup standings. Kuchar has wins at the World Match Play Championship and the Memorial, along with a runner up in the Crowne Plaza Invitational and 3 other 10 tens.

Kuchar is looking for his first major title. He is in the top 15 in strokes gained-putting, adjusted scoring, and scoring on par 4′s and par 5′s. This course is tailor made for Kuchar’s skill set, and he is definitely worth a play as he should contend. Kuchar is even money to beat Adam Scott and -150 to beat Brandt Snedeker. I like Kuchar to win both of those match-ups.

 

Rory McIlroy (21/1) 

McIlroy has struggled this year with only a runner up at the Texas Open as his best finish. McIlroy finished tied for 57th at the Memorial, which broke a string of 3 top 10′s and a top 25. McIlroy won the US Open in 2011 at Congressional and the PGa Championship last year. McIlroy is fourth in greens in regulation. He could contend, if like Tiger his performance at the Memorial was just an off week and not a sign of something more serious. McIlroy is +195 against Tiger and +110 against Scott.

Adam Scott (45/2)

Scott won the Masters for his first major title, and also has a third at the WGC Cadillac Championship. He has 5 top 20′s in 8 starts around the world this season.  He hasn’t played enough to qualify but he would be second in adjusted scoring if he did. Scott certainly has a chance to win his second major at Merion. Scott is -140 against McIlroy and -130 against Kuchar. I like Scott against McIlroy.

Lee Westwood (25/1) 

Westwood has 5 top 10′s in 11 PGA starts this season, with 5 straight before he withdrew from the Memorial. He tied for 8th at both the Masters and the Players. Westwwod si still looking for his elusive first major title, but he hasn’t finished lower than 23rd in his last five trips to the Open. Westwood is too good a player to have never won a major. He will break through eventually but I don’t think it will be this week. Westwood is +120 against Scott and -105 against Luke Donald. I like him against Donald.

Justin Rose (25/1)

Rose has 4 top 10′s and 7 top 25′s in 8 PGA events, including a runner up to Tiger at the Arnold Palmer. Rose has never won a major but does have 3 top 25′s at the US Open. Rose is in the top 20 on tour in fairways hit, grrens in regualtion, adjusted scoring and par 5 scoring. I like Rose at -140 to beat Mickelson.

Brandt Snedeker (30/1)

Snedeker started off the season with 4 top 3′s in his first five events, including a win at Pebble Beach. However, Snedeker has missed the cut in four of his last 7 events, along with a tie for 59th at teh RBC Heritage. He does have top 10′s at the Masters and the Players in that stretch. Snedker missed the cut at the Memorial and  the St. Jude in the last 2 events. He is the defending FedEx Cup champion but is looking for his first major title. Snedeker is +120 against Kuchar and -115 against McDowell. I don’t think Snedeker contends this week.

Other contenders and their odds include Steve Stricker (32/1), Charl Schwartzel (33/1), Luke Donald (35/1), Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia (both 38/1), Jason Dufner and Louis Oosthuizen (both 42/1), Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson (both 45/1), Keegan Bradley and Hunter Mahan (both 50/1), Henrik Stenson and Matteo Manassero (both 60/1), Rickie Fowler (66/1), Bill Haas and Zach Johnson ( both 70/1), Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter (both 75/1), Bubba Watson, Nick Watney, Bo Van Pelt, Tim Clark, Padraig Harrington, and Angel Cabrera (all 80/1), Ernie Els (90/1), field (+375)

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