U.S. Open Golf 2012: Bold Predictions for the Final Round at Olympic

Joe Rapolla Jr.Featured ColumnistJune 17, 2012

U.S. Open Golf 2012: Bold Predictions for the Final Round at Olympic

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    There is no denying that the first three rounds of this year's U.S. Open have provided fans with some of the most intriguing professional golf ever. 

    The "leaders" of this tournament are currently boasting scores above par after the first 54 holes. Scores this high rarely put pros in contention, yet Olympic is no average golf course. It has proven to stump even the best talents in the game through the first three-fourths of the tournament. 

    Sunday should be a memorable, if not historic day in San Francisco. Storylines are dangling everywhere like ornaments from a Christmas tree. A 17-year-old amateur is in contention, Tiger is in the hunt but struggled on Saturday, and Grame McDowell is vying for his second major win in as many years. 

    Sit back and relax folks, this is U.S. Open golf. 

5. Beau Hossler Finishes -2 on the Front Nine, +3 on the Back

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    The story of Beau Hossler's vigilance and determination throughout this tournament has been amazingly impressive. The 17-year-old high school student is making headlines throughout the country, not only for his amazing play, but also for his poise both on and off the course. 

    Hossler has hung in there with golf's best, answering his bogeys with birdies, and gave an extremely coherent and reflective postgame interview with Jim Nantz following his round yesterday. 

    On Sunday, I predict that he will open strong, but will struggle a little bit on the back nine, ultimately putting him at +1 for the day and +4 for the tournament. All in all, there is no losing for Beau Hossler at this point. 

4. Jason Dufner Shoots a Field Best 67, Finishes Even for the Tournament

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    Jason Dufner is without question the success story of the 2012 PGA Tour thus far. 

    Dufner's been a PGA Tour member since 2004, but he has never found consistent success until 2011. This year he's already accumulated three tour wins and has been performing well in majors, finishing 24th in this year's Masters. 

    Dufner doesn't play exciting golf, but he shoots accurately and plays smart. If he would have sunk a few close putts on Saturday, he'd be leading the tournament right now. 

3. Tiger Woods Shoots a 68, Putting Him at +2 for the Tournament

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    Tiger is going to play aggressively on Sunday, and I think there will be moments where this pays off for him and moments where it will make him look foolish. 

    There's no reason to believe that he will falter off the tee, as he has been amazing from here throughout the entire tournament. 

    Where I think Tiger will continue to shoot himself in the foot is on the putting greens. Tiger could easily be holding a -2 score right now, but he continually pushed putts right and left yesterday. He doesn't have the confidence on the greens that he has had in the past, and these missed putts cause him to muff other approach shots. 

    Nonetheless, Tiger's playing great golf, some of the best in the field, and there is no reason to believe that 2012 will not go down as a successful year for him. 

2. Furyk Shoots a +3, McDowell a +1

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    The pairing of Furyk and McDowell will certainly attract the gallery of the "serious" golf fans on Sunday. As far as a leading paring goes, it isn't the most exciting, yet it will certainly be an exciting twosome to follow on Sunday if you love watching golf for golf. 

    Furyk is a serious player with a polite demeanor, while McDowell is a friendly player out of Northern Ireland who never seems to be taking the game too seriously. (Don't be fooled by the smiles, he is.)

    Both of these men are on the lower side of mid-range off the tee, yet McDowell boasts extreme accuracy (1st in fairways hit through 2012), while Furyk boasts a great short game. 

    Both of these golfers are able to put themselves in position to putt for birdie, yet today, I think McDowell finds more success in this area. 

1. Dufner and McDowell's Even Scores Send Them to a Playoff

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    When it's all said and done, it will be two golfers with a score of even sitting atop the leaderboard. The two men, Jason Dufner and Grame McDowell, will head to a three-hole playoff to determine the winner of the 2012 U.S. Open. 

    Since Dufner, who will be coming off a field-best 67, will have more momentum going in, I award him the advantage, and thereby, the tournament. 

    2012 will continue to mean big things for Dufner, as he captures his first major crown following a very impressive rally on Sunday at Olympic. 

    For Furyk, it will be another major where he'll come up just short. Disappointing, yes, but Furyk's golf career has been anything but unsuccessful. 

    Dufner, who is already leading the FedEx Cup standing at the moment, will distance himself from the rest of the pack even more, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him rise into the Top 10 of the Official Golf World Rankings.