US Open Golf 2012: Players Outside Final 3 Groups with Real Chance at Victory
Tiger Woods is the best front-runner in major championship golf history, but that doesn't mean he's immune to losing a lead at a venue as physically demanding and psychologically draining as the Olympic Club.
It's easy to pick co-leaders David Toms or Jim Furyk as potential challengers to Woods, but let's take a look at a few players who have more to overcome to catch the leaders, but are certainly capable of making a weekend charge.
At the U.S. Open, nothing's guaranteed.
Hunter Mahan (+3)
Mahan's one of the smoothest swingers on the PGA Tour, with a methodical tempo he repeats on every shot regardless of the club he's gripping.
Not surprisingly, he's had a strong ball-striking 36 holes thus far at Olympic. Mahan's hit 57 percent of the fairways and nearly 67 percent of greens in regulation.
He had a relatively steady second round, outside of a disastrous triple-bogey on the treacherous sixth. If he can avoid the big number and methodically go about his business and hover around even par, he'll be a force to be reckoned with on Sunday.
Matt Kuchar (+3)
Out of these three, who has the best chance to make a weekend surge?
Kuchar was the low amateur in the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, so, despite an assortment of course variations, he certainly knows his way around the rolling hills in San Francisco.
Another stable ball striker, Kuchar stays in contention in nearly every tournament by systematically maneuvering his ball into the right spots. His putter will either lead to his demise or be the reason he makes a huge jump up the leaderboard this weekend.
Though he hasn't won a major, he's a battle-tested veteran who's played an abundance of pressure-packed golf in his life.
K.J. Choi (+3)
Choi's fine lurking in the background, a place where mental strain isn't as dramatic and expectations are lowered.
The 42-year-old South Korean has a history of vying for major championships due to his strong ball-striking, streaky putter and steady on-course demeanor.
Choi should be seen as a true dark horse because of his patented fade shot. Tiger Woods has relied on the left-to-right ball flight with great success early in the tournament.
Many of the holes require a fade off the tee and left-to-right approach shots land softly on these exquisite but hard greens.
If Choi can make a few long putts, we'll see his name near the top of the leaderboard when it matters most.
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