With the 2012 US Open just a little more than three weeks away, it's time to start getting serious about picking the contenders.
The Olympic Club in San Francisco will play host to the 112th playing of golf's toughest test, and the field is naturally an impressive one.
Sure, there's the world's top-ranked player and defending champion Rory McIlroy. His play at a couple events this year has been suspect—especially at the Masters Tournament last month where he finished T40—but for the most part, he's been playing very well.
Of course, there's Tiger Woods. I picked Tiger to win his 15th major championship this year, but your guess is as good as mine when it comes to which Tiger Woods we'll see at the US Open. The Tiger of old reappeared in winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five strokes in March, but like McIlroy, he finished T40 at the Masters and has been inconsistent this season.
I'm also guessing players like Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar will have something to say about the outcome of this championship.
But what about those dark horse candidates who won't bring the same flair of the aforementioned golfers, but who could play surprisingly well?
The PGA Tour made a stop at the HP Byron Nelson Championship this past week and several players notched standout performances that got my attention heading into this year's second major.
Here are five Byron Nelson standouts who just might be ready to shock the world at the Olympic Club.