Last Week's Pick to Win (Scott Stallings) - Finished tied for 2nd
Last Week's Darkhorse (John Rollins) - Finished 6th
Can Tiger Woods win his 15th major title and first since winning the U.S. Open
in 2008? Will Rory McIlroy bounce back from recent poor play to win his second
U.S. Open title and third major championship? Will Phil Mickelson win his fifth
major and first U.S. Open? Can Adam Scott win his second straight major after
winning the Masters in April? Will Webb Simpson become the first player since
Curtis Strange in 1989 to win two straight U.S. Opens? Can Matt Kuchar, Justin
Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter,
Dustin Johnson or Steve Stricker break through and win their first major
championship? These questions will all be answered this week as the world's
best make the trek to Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania as it hosts the
U.S. Open for the fifth time.
World No.1 Woods is coming off his worst finish of the year last week at the
Memorial, where he tied for 65th. However, he already has four victories on the
season and is having his best year since 2009.
McIlroy is still looking for his first victory of 2013, following a brilliant
2012 in which he claimed five wins worldwide. He finished tied for 57th in his
last start at the Memorial.
Scott won the Masters in April for his first major championship. He has a
chance to become only the sixth player ever to win the Masters and U.S. Open
titles in the same year. Ben Hogan (1951, 53) did it twice. The others were
Craig Wood (1941), Arnold Palmer (1960), Jack Nicklaus (1972) and Woods
Kuchar is in outstanding form coming into the U.S. Open. He won the Memorial
for his second victory of the season. Kuchar and Woods are the only multiple
winners on tour this year. It is the first time in his career that Kuchar has
won multiple times in one season. He is currently ranked No. 4 in the world,
the highest he has been in his career.
The last back-to-back winner of the championship was Strange, who titled in
1988-89. Since 1991, only Graeme McDowell, Woods and Retief Goosen have
finished better than 40th in trying to defend their Open crowns. McDowell
finished tied for 14th in 2011; Goosen finished tied for 11th in 2005 after
holding a 3-stroke lead after 54 holes; Woods finished 12th in 2001; he
was tied for 20th in 2003; and tied for sixth in 2009.
An American has won this event in 22 of the last 31 years. Only South Africa's
Ernie Els (1994, 97) and Goosen (2001, 04), New Zealand's Michael Campbell
(2005), Australia's Geoff Ogilvy (2006), Argentina's Angel Cabrera (2007) and
Northern Ireland's McDowell (2010) and McIlroy (2011) have won the title in
that span. In the last 59 years, American players have captured 47 U.S. Opens.
Ten past champions are in the field - Cabrera, Campbell, Els, Jim Furyk, Lucas
Glover, McDowell, McIlroy, Ogilvy, Simpson and Woods.
Not only will the winner receive a check for $1,440,000, but the victor also
receives an Open exemption for the next 10 years, an invitation to the next
five Masters, an invitation to the next five British Opens, an invitation to
the next five PGA Championships, an invitation to the next five Players
Championships and exempt status on the PGA Tour for the next five years.
The championship is open to any professional or amateur golfer with a USGA
Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4. The deadline for entries was April 24th. The
USGA accepted 9,860 entries this year, the highest total in history. The
previous mark was set in 2009 when 9,086 entries were received for Bethpage
Last year, Simpson carded his second straight 2-under 68 in the final round
to come from behind and win. Simpson finished at 1-over-par 281 to win by one
stroke over Michael Thompson and Graeme McDowell. He started the weekend tied
for 29th, which means he came from farther back than any other champion since
In 2011, McIlroy rewrote the U.S. Open history book at Congressional. The
22-year-old Northern Irishman shot four rounds in the 60s and won by a
staggering eight shots. He finished at 16-under 268, which set records for
lowest score and lowest score in relation to par in U.S. Open history. McIlroy
reached 17-under par, which was a first at the U.S. Open. He became the
youngest winner of this championship since Bobby Jones in 1923. All totaled
for the week, McIlroy broke or tied 12 U.S. Open records. He joined Lee
Trevino and Lee Janzen as the only players ever to shoot four rounds in the
60s in regulation -- Trevino in 1968 and Janzen in 1993.
The 20 sub-par totals for 72 holes at Congressional Country Club in 2011 were
the second-most all-time in U.S. Open history behind 28 sub-par totals at
Medinah Country Club in 1990. The 108 sub-par rounds recorded were the second-
most all-time behind the 124 at Medinah in 1990. The 32 sub-par scores in the
final round are the most all-time, breaking the previous record of 18 at
Baltusrol Golf Club in 1993.
Northern Ireland's McDowell became the first European in 40 years to win in
2010, shooting rounds of 71-68-71-74 for a 1-shot victory over Gregory Havret
of France. Tony Jacklin was the last European player to win when he captured
the event in 1970.
In 2009, Glover won exactly two weeks to the day after he qualified to play in
it. Glover never even made a U.S. Open cut before 2009. Scratching his way to
a 3-over 73 in the final round, he beat Mickelson, David Duval and Ricky Barnes
by two shots at 4-under 276. Glover became only the sixth qualifier since 1960
to win. It was the second time Mickelson took runner-up on the Black course at
Bethpage State Park, as he lost to Woods in 2002. Glover, No. 71 in the world
when he arrived at Bethpage, became the fourth-lowest ranked golfer to win this
event since the rankings were instituted in 1986.
Woods finally beat Rocco Mediate on the 91st hole on Monday's 2008
championship, ending a classic major championship with a par at the 19th hole
of a playoff. Woods made a birdie to send the scheduled 18-hole playoff into
sudden-death, then needed only a routine par at the next hole after Mediate
bounced a bunker shot off the cart path and against the bleachers. It brought
to an end one of the longest U.S. Opens in history, a tournament whose first
four rounds played out in primetime on the East Coast. Millions watched one of
Woods' most compelling victories. With his win in 2008, Woods recorded his
ninth USGA national championship title, matching the record set by Bobby Jones.
Cabrera, from Argentina, won in 2007 with a 1-under 69 in the final round to
hold off Woods and Furyk for his country's first major championship in 40
years. Cabrera ended at 5-over 285, carding two of the eight sub-70 rounds
yielded by tough Oakmont all week, to beat Woods and Furyk by a shot. Roberto
DeVicenzo won Argentina's only previous major championship at the 1967 British
Open at Hoylake, but is probably best remembered for a scoring gaffe that cost
him a chance to win the 1968 Masters. Furyk became the first player to post
back-to-back second-place finishes since Palmer in 1966-67.
In 2006, Mickelson found a trash can, a tent, and yet another way to finish
runner-up. Mickelson's try for a third straight major championship ended in a
collapse at Winged Foot when he double-bogeyed the 18th hole to all but hand
Ogilvy the win. Ogilvy chipped in for par at 17, made par from a sand divot on
18 and closed with a 2-over 72 to become the first Australian since David
Graham in 1981 to win. He celebrated in front of a television monitor, having
finished one group ahead of Mickelson. Ogilvy won by one shot over Mickelson,
Furyk and Colin Montgomerie, who all stumbled down the stretch.
New Zealand's Campbell overcame a 4-shot deficit in 2005 and a hard charge
from Woods in the final round to capture the title at Pinehurst No. 2. Campbell
was the only one in the championship to finish at par or better with a 4-round
total of even-par 280. It was Campbell's first major victory and first title in
the United States. Campbell joined Bob Charles as the only players from New
Zealand to win major championships. Charles captured the 1963 British Open.
It's happened seven times, but only six players have won wire-to-wire: Walter
Hagen (1914), James Barnes (1921), Hogan (1953), Jacklin (1970), Woods (2000,
2002) and McIlroy (2011)
The PGA Tour moves to Connecticut next week for the Travelers Championship,
where Marc Leishman captured his first PGA Tour title last year.
06/10 16:14:32 ET
As of June 10, 2013, at 04:15 PM ET
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