2012 PGA US Open Golf Championship
Olympic Club Lake Course – San Francisco, California
Par 70 – 7,170 yards
Thursday, June 14 – Sunday, June 17, 2012, TV: ESPN, NBC
Defending Champion: Rory McIlroy
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
The US Open returns to the Olympic Club in San Francisco for the first time since 1998 and the fifth time overall. The course is very challenging and the first 6 holes might be the most difficult stretch of holes on tour this year. If the players survive that then monster 670 yard Par 5 16th awaits.The course has no out of bounds or water hazards, and has only 1 fairway bunker.
Olympic has been nicknamed the “Graveyard of Legends” because Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, and Payne Stewart all had final round leads in US Opens here. None walked away with the title that year. Lee Janzen grabbed his second US Open title after coming from behind in 1998 against Stewart.
Twenty current players were in the field in that 98 Open including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, and Davis Love III. They will face a different course as they downgraded the slope on the 18th green that many said way to drastic in 1998. Also disease caused many trees to have to be cut down, so it opens the course up to wind off the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Here is a look at some of the favorites and contenders and some head to head match-ups I like. All odds courtesy of bookmaker.
Tiger Woods (6/1)
Tiger is coming off his second win in his last 5 starts at the Memorial two weeks ago, after winning the Arnold Palmer in March. Unfortunately he sandwiched those two wins around 40th place finishes at the Masters and the Players and a missed cut at the Wells Fargo. Tiger hasn’t won a major since the 2008 US Open. Woods leads the PGA in total driving, and is in the top 10 in greens in regulation and bogey avoidance. Tiger is in a star-studded group with Mickelson and Masters champ Bubba Watson. Tiger should contend this weekend for his 15th major title. A young Woods finished in the top 20 in 1998 when he had just 7 career wins. He now has 73. Tiger is favored in match-ups against Rory McIlroy, Westwood, Luke Donald and Mickelson. He has a good shot in all of those if he plays his game and isn’t plagued by putter woes.
Lee Westwood (17/2)
Westwood is arguably the best golfer who has never won a major, although Luke Donald could also lay claim to that unfortunate title. Westwood has top 3 finishes in 6 of his last 10 majors. He easily won the Nordea Masters last week in Europe. Westwood is #1 in GIR and #15 in total driving on the PGA tour. He had a top 10 finish here in 1998. Westwood has to win a major sometime, and this could be his week. A top ten is likely. Westwood is favored against McIlroy and Donald. He is paired with both of them for the first 2 rounds, in a group of the top 3 ranked players in the world.
Phil Mickelson (10/1)
Mickelson is a 5 time runner up at the US Open but has never won it. He pulled out of the Memorial two weeks ago after the first round citing “exhaustion.” He was at +7 when he withdrew, but some said Mickelson was upset at some fans in the gallery for taking pictures with their cell phones when he was swinging. Mickelson has a win and 4 other top 5’s this season. Mickelson is 14th in strokes gained putting, and sixth in bogey avoidance. Mickelson had a top 10 at Olympic in 1998. Lefty is favored against Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Both are coming off recent tour wins, but I think Mickelson has a shot to beat both. A top 10 is a possibility for Mickelson.
Luke Donald (41/4)
Donald is the #1 ranked player in the world but has never won a major. He has 6 top finishes in majors but has never done so at the US Open. He won the BMW PGA Championship a few weeks ago, his second win of the year. Donald is in the top 10 in fairways hit and bogey avoidance. He could break through for his first career major. Donald is a n underdog against Woods and Westwood, but is favored to beat McIlroy.
Rory McIlroy (12/1)
McIlroy won the US Open last year at Congressional in record breaking fashion. He rebounded last week at the FedEx St. Jude with a tie for 7th, after missing three straight cuts. McIlroy is having unfortunate problem with accuracy off the tee. Even last week, he missed 30 of 56 fairways in Memphis. He leads the tour in birdie average. No one has won back to back US Opens since Curtis Strange in 1989. I don’t think it will happen this year either.
Jason Dufner (20/1)
Dufner has 2 wins and a runner up in his last 4 starts, and leads the FedEx Cup standings. He has never won a major, but as hot as he has been recently, that could change quickly. He is first on tour in hole proximity and pre-cut scoring average. Dufner is also in the top 10 in fairways, GIR, and bogey avoidance. I like Dufner to beat both Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson.
Justin Rose (22/1)
Rose won the WGC Cadillac Championship in March and has 5 top tens since then in 8 starts. He is third in GIR and bogey avoidance. Rose is favored against Matt Kuchar, and I like Rose in that match-up.
Dustin Johnson (25/1)
Johnson won the FedEx St. Jude last week in Memphis. He became the first player since Tiger Woods to have at least one win in 5 straight years out of college. He has 4 top 10’s in six starts this year, pretty good considering he is coming off back surgery. No player has ever won the US Open after winning the week before, but Johnson has a shot at changing that.
Matt Kuchar (28/1)
Kuchar tied for 14th as an amateur at Olympic in 1998. He has top 15s at the last two US Opens. He tied for third at the Masters this year. He leads the PGA in scoring average, is second in bogey avoidance and is 10th in GIR. Kuchar is favored to beat Steve Stricker, but is an underdog to Justin Rose.
Jim Furyk (28/1)
Furyk has 7 top 25’s in his last 8 starts on tour. He has 5 top 5’s at the US Open including a win in 2003. Furyk finished tied for 14th in ’98 at Olympic. He leads the PGA in fairways and is second in bogey avoidance. I like Furyk as a favorite against Zach Johnson and Jason Day. Furyk could be a nice sleeper pick to contend.
Rickie Fowler (30/1)
Fowler had a closing 84 at the Memorial that broke a string of 4 straight top 10 finishes, including his first career win. Fowler is third in total driving. He has the talent to contend at Olympic. Fowler could be worth a play at +105 against Mickelson.
Hunter Mahan (30/1)
Mahan has 2 wins on tour this year. He has never won a major but has a tie for 12th and a tie for 19th in his last two major starts. Mahan is a slight favorite to beat Steve Stricker and Bubba Watson.
Sergio Garcia (30/1)
If not for Westwood and Donald, Garcia would be the best player to have never won a major. Garcia tied for 3 third at The Nordea Masters last week. He has 8 top 25’s in 12 US Open starts, including the last 4. He is third on the European tour in GIR and 10th in putting. Garcis favored in match-ups against Keegan Bradley and Nick Watney.
Steve Stricker (33/1)
Stricker tied for 5th in 1998 at this course. He has never won a major but is one of the most consistent players on tour. He has the short game to contend on this course. Stricker is -115 to beat Garcia.
Bubba Watson (35/1)
Watson won the Masters this year in a playoff with Louis Oosthuizen, for his first major title. Watson also has a runner up and 2 other top 10’s this year. He is ranked #5 in the world and is also 5th in the FedEx Cup Standings. He has only played in 2 events since the Masters, and was in contention at either. I like Watson as a favorite to beat Adam Scott.