Heading into the 2013 U.S. Open, plenty of golfers can be considered favorites for the upcoming major. But don't count out these sleepers, who have proven in the past that they're capable of excelling on the big stage.
Seven of the last eight U.S. Open winners were first-time major champions, which is only more reason to believe that someone could sneak up from under the radar to claim glory at one of golf's marquee events.
And there's no better place to do so than at Merion Golf Club just outside Philadelphia, one of the most thrilling golf courses in the world.
Let's take a look at the biggest sleepers heading into Merion for what should be an exciting U.S. Open.
Note: All odds courtesy of Golfodds.com
Somehow, Jason Day has remained under the radar despite playing incredibly well in majors over the past few seasons.
Day finished with at least a share of second place in both the Masters and U.S. Open in 2011, and that's far from the only time the Australian has made noise on a huge stage.
Even in this year's Masters, he was threatening all week to become the first Australian to win at Augusta National. Up until the final few holes, Day was right in the thick of things before fellow countryman Adam Scott stole the show.
He's picked up three professional wins since going pro in 2006 and has proven to be no fluke, as he's been a contender on a regular basis during big weekends. It'd be wrong to think any different this weekend at Merion, where the stakes are high again.
Ever since coming onto the scene, Thorbjorn Olesen has been a huge talking point in golf for his poise and confident game as much as his amazing name.
Olesen's career really took off when he took over at the Masters, finding himself among the leaders all weekend and finishing tied for sixth place. But he had been in contention before, finishing ninth at last year's British Open and in the top 30 at the 2012 PGA Championship.
The 23-year-old doesn't have many years of pro golf under his belt, but he's shown that to be no true disadvantage, as the Denmark native is no stranger to being in the hunt for major championships.
The U.S. Open has been a place for new stars in the world of golf to emerge in the past decade, and Olesen could very well be the next bearer of the great honor that is winning a major at Merion.
It's hard to find a golfer who has been more off and on than Ian Poulter has been in recent seasons, as the golfer remains one of the world's marquee names in the sport despite battling inconsistency.
But Poulter's performances in his most recent majors leads one to believe he could be gearing up for a big-time weekend. He tied for third in the 2012 PGA Championship after a seventh-place finish at last year's Masters.
The one glaring issue for Poulter is his dud of a performance at the Masters this year, where he was cut before the third round of action. We've seen plenty of good from the England native, but that instance was about as bad as it gets for Poulter.
Still, he's shown a great putting game at times this season and always has the ability to swiftly navigate fairways. If he can find his game heading into Merion, Poulter is definitely capable of beating the odds.
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