The 2013 U.S. Open at the East Course of the Merion Golf Club will test the players in a similar fashion as Sawgrass did for The Players Championship. It will surely prove to be more difficult, but it will put emphasis on the same part of a player's game.
The Players Championship requires accuracy off the tee. Also, while the greens were softened a bit by rain this year, it was still a slick putting surface, and creative chips and high, soft approach shots are needed onto those greens.
These qualities are almost always at a premium at a U.S. Open, and the par-70 Merion figures to be no different.
So, with the U.S. Open less than a month away, The Players Championship afforded us an excellent opportunity to measure these guys preparedness for the year's second major. Here are the three who impressed me the most.
*All stats via PGATour.com.
We have to start with Tiger, right? The legend is insanely hot, and his win at Sawgrass this year was impressive.
Tiger rolled into last week after not having played since his fourth-place finish at the Masters, but there were certainly no signs of rust. And while Tiger had won three of his first six PGA tournaments this year, he had done so at courses that set up well for his game.
Sawgrass does not. Tiger won this event back in 2001, but he has had just one top-10 finish in the event since. By playing smart off the tee, Woods was able to limit any potential problems with inaccuracy, and, with the way he was striking his irons and wedges, he hit 76.4 percent of his greens in regulation and didn't leave himself a lot of work on many of those.
Woods is in full command of his game right now, and this makes him the favorite at any course.
For the first time since his return from his rib injury, Snedeker pieced together a consistently solid tournament as he finished at seven-under and in eighth place.
This was his fifth tournament since his return. In three of the other five, he finished in 59th and missed two cuts. Then there was the Masters, where he came in sixth, but was undone with a 75 in the final round.
Sure, that collapse likely had to more to do with dealing with the pressure of the stage, but pressure is easier to handle when there is an abundance of confidence in one's game. Snedeker should be building that confidence back up now.
With all four of his rounds checking in between 69 and 71, Snedeker was in full control of his game, and this should only improve as he further entrenches himself in his rhythm.
At his best, Snedeker is one of the best ball strikers and putters on the Tour. This will serve him well at this year's U.S. Open.
Kevin Streelman doesn't carry the same name power as our first two golfers, but he is in the process of changing this.
Streelman has been in superb form this year. In his last six tournaments, he has four finishes at sixth or better. This includes winning his first PGA event, which came in Tampa Bay, and his second-place finish at The Players Championship.
Streelman doesn't have great distance, but he is accurate and reliable off the tee. He is a consistent ball striker at all places on the course, and he is currently fifth in strokes gained-putting.
All of this means that Merion should play right to his strengths.
While Streelman is lightly accomplished for his career, he should definitely be considered one of the favorites for this year's U.S. Open.
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