The main focus at the 2013 U.S. Open will be on Tiger Woods. And rightly so—the star is back on top of the game.
And while he is the favorite to win, he is not the only one with a chance. In fact, there are plenty of lesser-known players who are getting hot at the right time.
Which long shot players have the best chance to shock the field and win the tournament?
Read on to find out.
Matt Kuchar is on a roll. In addition to winning the Memorial Tournament, he finished second at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. He has made every cut since finishing in the Top 10 at this year's Masters.
Kuchar is the only player, other than Tiger Woods, to have more than one victory this season.
Perhaps because of his recent streak, Kuchar is entering the U.S. Open with confidence, as he told Yahoo!:
Winning tournaments breeds more winning tournaments. Anytime you can get comfortable playing in that final group, finishing off a tournament, winning a tournament is a huge amount of confidence. I think last week was helpful playing in the last group at Colonial. I played some good, steady golf, not quite good enough. But having that opportunity again the very next week, I felt good out there. I knew my game was in good shape and was a lot more comfortable in the situation.
While he doesn't have the distance off the tee that some golfers do, he is pretty consistent. He is fifth on the Tour in par-5 birdies.
That consistency gives him a great chance to win. As long as he can adjust to a course that he's never played on, there's no reason why Kuchar won't be amongst the top finishers.
Weekley is coming off a win at the Crowne Plaza International and is enjoying a season that has him rising up the rankings.
Currently ranked as the 55th-best player in the world, Weekley finished last season ranked 299th. That impressive rise is due, in large part, to his consistency. He's not a flashy golfer, but he is ranked fourth in greens, 26th in par breakers and 17th in accuracy off the tee.
His hot play, combined with consistency, could lead him to shock the field. He's by no means a favorite, but he does have the ability to stay in the pack.
He's finally healthy after dealing with shoulder issues and he told the Pensacola News Journal that he has his confidence back:
I thought I lost it … Kind of lost my confidence, that’s what I lost. But I got a new caddie, started working with a new coach, Scott Hamilton, a year and a half ago … and he’s got me where I believe in what I’m doing again. Now I feel like I’m on top and I can actually win multiple times out here.
With health on his side, look for Weekley to continue his remarkable season and be among the contenders to win it all.
Tim Clark has an intriguing backstory. Due to an injury to his forearm, Clark uses an anchored putter. However, this putter will soon be banned from the sport.
As John Garrity of Golf.com notes:
The catalyst for this development is a rules change finalized last week by the USGA and the R&A, a revision popularly known as the anchored-putting ban. As of Jan. 1, 2016, Rule 14-1b will prohibit the long- and belly-putter techniques employed by four of the last six major-championship winners, including defending U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson. It will also, Clark asserts, jeopardize his career because he—unlike Adam Scott, Ernie Els or Keegan Bradley—can't simply dust off an old putter and "go short." "I can't grip the club properly if it's close to my body," Clark says, "because I don't have the means to tuck my elbows in." (Full swings are no problem because on those shots he extends his arms, palms facing each other.)
There is still time for the rule to be changed and for Clark to have a long career. . But in the meantime, Clark has a real chance of winning the U.S. Open. He's had success at majors before, too. He finished tied for the third at the U.S. Open in 2005, second at the 2006 Masters, and third at the PGA.
He won the 2010 Players Championship and finished 11th at this year's Masters.
And while his story is inspirational, what's more important is that his game is suited to the course. The narrow fairways, he told Golf.com give him an advantage:
That gives me an advantage because I'm hitting shorter clubs to the green. If I'm out in front of you in the fairway, I like my chances.
Clark is rounding into form this year and has enough experience at major events not to be frazzled. That, and the fact that this is the perfect course him, makes him a legitimate contender.