Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have won the last two U.S. Open titles, giving Northern Ireland a stranglehold on the coveted major championship. Golfers from all around the globe will converge on The Olympic Club with hopes of breaking the streak.
It's a tournament that will feature no shortage of storylines. Will Tiger Woods finally win another major? Has the massive hype started to impact McIlroy's game? Which surprise contenders will emerge to challenge the big names?
All of those questions and more will be answered by Sunday.
There will also be plenty of eyes on Bubba Watson. He won the Masters back in April and will be looking to become the first player since Woods in 2002 to claim the season's first two major events. He'll have to overcome an extremely deep and talented field to do it, though.
What is the year's toughest major?
Here's a look at all the key information for the 2012 U.S. Open.
Where: The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif.
When: Thursday, June 14 - Sunday, June 17
Notable Groupings for Opening Two Rounds (All Times ET)
|10:33 a.m.||4:18 p.m.||Phil Mickelson||Bubba Watson||Tiger Woods|
|4:29 p.m.||10:44 a.m.||Luke Donald||Rory McIlroy||Lee Westwood|
|4:40 p.m.||10:55 a.m.||Jim Furyk||Sergio Garcia||Graeme McDowell|
|4:58 p.m.||11:43 a.m.||Rickie Fowler||Ryo Ishikawa||Dustin Johnson|
|5:02 p.m.||11:17 a.m.||Angel Cabrera||Ernie Els||Geoff Ogilvy|
A full list of tee times for the first two rounds are available on the tournament's official site.
Television Schedule (All Times ET)
|Round 1||June 14||12 - 3 p.m.||ESPN|
|3 - 5 p.m.||NBC|
|5 - 10 p.m.||ESPN|
|Round 2||June 15||12 - 3 p.m.||ESPN|
|3 - 5 p.m.||NBC|
|5 - 10 p.m.||ESPN|
|Round 3||June 16||4 - 10 p.m.||NBC|
|Round 4||June 17||4 - 10 p.m.||NBC|
Golfers to Watch
Who will win the 2012 U.S. Open?
If any other golfer was having the season Woods has had so far, it would be considered a great year. But the standards are much higher for him, so he needs to win a major championship before people are ready to consider 2012 a success for the fan favorite.
While those expectations are no longer fair considering everything the 36-year-old superstar has gone through to get back on track, Woods has come to understand them, and they help fuel his fire. His two wins prove he's getting close to reaching those unmatched heights once again.
Tiger will likely never dominate the sport like he did during his prime, but it's still going to be a long time before he's no longer a threat at big events. Coming off of his triumph in the Memorial, it would be a surprise if he isn't in the mix on Sunday.
It's been a roller-coaster season for McIlroy. The phenom started off the year on fire, finishing fifth or better in his first five starts, counting both the PGA and European Tours. It seemed like this was going to be the year McIlroy put it all together to assert himself as a clear No. 1.
That hasn't materialized, however, as he's been plagued by inconsistency ever since struggling on the weekend at Augusta. At one point, he had missed three straight cuts (two PGA, one Euro) and looked like a shell of the player from just months earlier.
He did rebound last weekend in the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a seventh-place finish. He won last year's U.S. Open by eight strokes, so it's impossible to count him out. That said, his performance has been too volatile to know what to expect from him this week.
After missing more than two months with a back injury, Johnson has looked really good since returning at the Memorial. He finished 19th there before picking up a victory last week in the aforementioned FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Johnson can hit the ball a country mile, which has always given him an advantage over most of the field. Now that's he's improved the finesse areas of his game and showcased a lot more confidence on Sunday last week, a breakout shouldn't be far off on the horizon.
His patience will be tested by the tough Olympic Club Lake Course, but the American has shown a lot more maturity this season and appears ready for the challenge. As long as he avoids any disastrous holes on the first two days, he'll be in good shape heading into the weekend.