US Open Golf 2012: Handicapping the Field at Olympic Club

Carlos TorresContributor IJune 10, 2012

US Open Golf 2012: Handicapping the Field at Olympic Club

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    The 112th edition of the U.S. Open starts this Thursday June 14 from the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.

    It will be the fifth time the tournament will be played at the Olympic Club and the first since Lee Janzen overcame a five stroke deficit on the final round to win his second U.S. Open title.

    That performance by Janzen marked the best final-round comeback in the tournament since Johnny Miller did it 1973 for his first major championship.

    Last year we also got to see history being written. Rory McIlroy set 11 tournament records en route to an eight-shot victory at Congressional Country Club in Maryland last June.

    McIlroy is back to defend the title, but back for one more major championship as well is former world No. 1 and three-time U.S. Open champ Tiger Woods.

    Woods is coming off an impressive win after a last round surge at the Memorial tournament and once again there is a lot of expectation surrounding him.

    The world's No. 1 and No. 3, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are also carrying some momentum off recent victories and will be the two players that everyone will be watching trying to win that elusive first major.

    Let's take a look at the players leading the futures odds for the U.S. Open according to vegasinsider.com.

Justin Rose, ENG

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    World Ranking: 7

    Odds: 30-1

    Rose is peaking at the right time coming into the U.S. Open. He has three straight Top 10 finishes including a T2 at BMW PGA Championship (EUR) won by Luke Donald.

    He also won his first WGC Championship winning the Cadillac earlier in the year and he will surely need the momentum he has going this year since the U.S. Open has not been too kind to him.

    He has a T10 (2007) and a T5 (2003) but has missed the cut the other four times he has played, including the last three.

Adam Scott (AUS)

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    World Ranking: 17

    Odds: 30-1

    Scott started the year late and has not got into the rhythm that took him to become a Top 10 player in the world. He had peaked at No. 7 after his T4 at the Australian Open last year.

    He has only one Top 10 finish this year which came when he finished T8 at The Masters.

    But since then he has been slipping in the rankings and comes from missing the cut at the Byron Nelson and most recently a T46 at the Memorial.

    The U.S. Open has been his worst major to date as he has missed the cut six times in 10 tries, and his best effort was a T21 in 2006.

Hunter Mahan (USA)

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    World Ranking: 8

    Odds: 30-1

    Mahan is a winner twice this year, and among his victories was the second WGC victory of his career when he won the Accenture Match Play Championship. 

    He is a streaky player that squeezes-in a great performance between some awful ones. When he gets hot he can burn up the field and beat anyone in the world.

    After he won the Shell Houston Open, he got into a funk that has seen him drop from fourth in the world rankings to eight.

    But to his credit he got a Top 20 at the Memorial on his last tournament and seems to be on the rebound, and may produce one of those masterful performances of his soon.

    And that is good news for him, he has five Top 20 finishes in his last six appearances in the U.S. Open including two Top 10s. He finished T12 last year.


Bubba Watson (USA)

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    World Ranking: 5

    Odds: 30-1

    The Masters champ has played twice since his breakthrough win. He has finished T18 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and missed the cut at the Memorial.

    He started the year on a tear and that momentum took him to the best performance of his life and his first major championship.

    But he has looked shaky to say the least on his past two tournaments and it may be because of the time he has taken off to be with his family.

    He will need to be in top shape if he is to contend in a tough U.S. Open. He has one Top 10 in six tries at the tournament, a T5 in 2007.

    Watson has also missed the cut twice—in 2004 and 2008.

     


Rickie Fowler (USA)

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    World Ranking: 18

    Odds: 25-1

    Fowler, the former world No. 1 ranked amateur, has climbed all to way up to a career-best 18th in the world rankings.

    He finally got that long-awaited first PGA win when he defeated pal Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points to win the Wells Fargo Championship.

    He almost became the second player to take his first two wins in back-to-back fashion since David Duval did it when he finished T2 at The Players the following week.

    He then finished T5 at the Crowne Plaza Invitational and two weeks ago he was part of the Red and Orange attack on Sunday as he was paired with Tiger Woods at the Memorial.

    Apparently that didn't workout too well for him as he shot a final round 84 and finished T52.

    He will need to get back to his best play if he hopes to contend. He finished T60 the first time he played the U.S. Open and has missed the cut in the last two.

Jason Dufner (USA)

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    World Ranking: 9

    Odds: 25-1

    Dufner finally broke through when he got his first win this year after knocking on the door of some big wins, mainly at last year's PGA Championship.

    He won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in a playoff over Ernie Els and the finished a disappointing T68 at The Players Championship.

    But he bounced back to win the Byron Nelson and then finished second at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

    He arguably might be the hottest golfer coming into the tournament and has the momentum and all the tools to win at the Olympic Club.

    He hasn't performed well at the U.S. Open, but you could argue that he has started peaking since the PGA Championship last year.

    In five starts, he has missed the cut twice (including last year) and his best has been a T33 in 2010.

Matt Kuchar (USA)

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    World Ranking: 6

    Odds: 25-1

    A model of consistency and steady play, Kuchar got his biggest win when he won The Players Championship last month.

    He peaked at a career-best fifth in the world but dropped down to sixth when Woods won the Memorial two weeks ago.

    After his win at The Players he finished T15 at the Byron Nelson and T26 at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

    While that seems to be going backwards at the wrong time, Kuchar's steady play might lead him to a strong performance on the tough Olympic course.

    Kuchar missed the cut at the U.S. Open on four of his first five tries. But, the last two years he has started the get a grasp for it as he has finished T6 in 2010 and T14 in 2011.


Phil Mickelson (USA)

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    World Ranking: 12

    Odds: 15-1

    The U.S. Open along with the British Open are the two majors Mickelson has not been able to add to his resume.

    But, contrary to his results in the British Open, he's had plenty of chances to win the U.S. Open finishing second five times in 21 tries. You can add finishing T4 twice and two additional Top 10s.

    Mickelson started the year on fire, winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and finishing second a week later at the Northern Trust Open.

    He has squeezed-in two Top fives (including his T3 at The Masters) and a Top 10 between some sub-par performances since.

    Two weeks ago he withdrew after shooting a 7-over 79 at the Memorial Tournament, citing fatigue.

    It's incredible that a player admits to to this as the reason for his withdrawal, but that certainly is eying the bigger picture. And that bigger prize is being fresh when coming to Olympic Club and going for his first U.S. Open.

Lee Westwood (ENG)

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    World Ranking: 3

    Odds: 15-1

    The world's No. 3 might be the best player ever not to win a major, and he must be carrying a truck load of confidence—and a new set of clubs in his bag—heading to the U.S. Open after winning the Nordea Masters title.

    After contending at The Masters where he was close to grabbing his first major, he won the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters and with this weekend's win he now has won twice overseas.

    The win came after a T61 finish at The Players and a T33 at the BMW PGA Championship (EUR), so its a definite boost coming to the Olympic Club.

    At the U.S. Open, Westwood has been closing in on a win, improving on his most recent performances. He has finished third twice in the last four years with a T16 and a T23 the other two.


Rory McIlroy (NIR)

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    World Ranking: 2

    Odds: 12-1

    The defending champion is heading to the U.S. Open the wrong way.

    At one point he was by far the hottest golfer on the planet with 12 Top fives in 14 tournaments. He also reached the long-awaited No. 1 ranking in the world after winning the Honda Classic.

    He has been in-and-out of the top spot along with Luke Donald since.

    McIlroy had a disappointing T40 at The Masters but after losing in a playoff to Rickie Fowler at the Wells Fargo Championship, he missed the cut on three straight tournaments for the first time in his career.

    He was then in contention with a two-shot lead on Sunday at the FedEx St. Jude and finished T7. He needs to step it up if he is to win back-to-back U.S. Open titles, right now he is a far cry from the golfer who set 11 records en route to winning last year.


Luke Donald (ENG)

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    World Ranking: 1

    Odds: 12-1

    The world's No. 1 is the model of consistency. He is steady, unflappable and contends every weekend even when he is not at his best.

    Just like he did last year he has been successful on both the PGA and European Tours winning once on each.

    He was named The Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Month for May thanks to his defense of the BMW PGA Championship title.

    With that win he returned to the top world ranking but he admitted after the win that he won't be able to match Rory McIlroy until he wins a major.

    Donald has yet to win a major, but he heads to the U.S. Open playing in top form, and he will need every bit of it.

    The U.S. Open has been the one major where he has yet to score a Top 10 finish and has T47 and T45 finishes in his last two tries. Before that he missed the cut twice in three years and his best finish is a T12 in 2006.

Tiger Woods (USA)

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    World Ranking: 4

    Odds: 6-1

    Woods is a former No. 1 and three-time U.S. Open champion. He seems to be peaking at the right time heading into the tournament trademarked as "Golf's Toughest Test".

    His win at the 2008 U.S. Open was an iconic one and his last major victory.

    He won it in spectacular fashion over Rocco Mediate after coming back from knee surgery two months earlier. Two days later, he announced that he would miss the remainder of the season due to further knee surgery.

    This year he is back up to fourth in the world rankings thanks to winning twice, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial—Jack Nicklaus' tournament.

    Both have been tournaments he has won multiple times so most are waiting for him to finally win another major before declaring him all the way back.

    On his last five tries at the U.S. Open, he has a win, finished second twice, and a T4 and T6 finish to go along with the only time he has missed the cut in 2006 at the Winged Foot Golf Club.