As the 113th U.S. Open's participants prepare for what is shaping up to be a wet week at Merion Golf Club, it's time to take a look at the top 25 golfers entering the season's second major.
Since the last edition of "the Rankings" (after the Players Championship), much has changed.
Tiger Woods, as all golf fans know, is the prohibitive favorite to win the U.S. Open. However, after his dismal showing at the Memorial Tournament and Matt Kuchar's statement victory in the same event, he's no longer a lock for the first spot in these rankings.
Has Tiger fallen from his perch? Who's moving up? Moving down?
Read on to find out.
Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR): 24
Previous Rank: N/A
Best of 2013: Nick Watney tied for fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open. He's made 11 of 12 cuts this year.
Why He's Here: Although he's missed cuts recently (even firing a score in the 80s), Watney returns to the top 25 on the strength of his stretch after the Masters (where he finished tied for 13th), which included a tie for 15th and a tie for 10th.
U.S. Open Prediction: Watney has made the cut only half the time he's teed it up at the U.S. Open. Given this fact, and his recent missed cuts, it's unlikely that he'll make the cut this year.
Previous Rank: N/A
Best of 2013: Ernie Els has made the cut in seven of his 11 starts this year. "The Big Easy" has been consistent, with his best finish coming at the Masters (T13).
Why He's Here: Els has been resurgent over the past two years. He's had a solid 2013 with a quality finish in the season's first major.
U.S. Open Prediction: The South African is hitting less than 60 percent of fairways this year. However, Ernie finished ninth at the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club last year, and it appears his game is still up to the toughest test in golf. Els should finish inside the top 25 at Merion.
Previous Rank: 23
Best of 2013: Jim Furyk finished tied for third at the Valero Texas Open. He's made 11 of 12 cuts and finished tied for seventh at the Tampa Bay Championship.
Why He's Here: With two made cuts and top-25 finishes since the previous power rankings, there's no reason to drop Furyk down the list.
U.S. Open Prediction: Historically Furyk has played well in U.S. Opens, and he won the event in 2003. After last year's disappointing finish, he will certainly be motivated heading to Merion, and a top-25 finish is virtually assured.
Previous Rank: 20
Best of 2013: The face of PUMA Golf finished tied for third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He's made 11 of 13 cuts with three top-10s.
Why He's Here: Rickie Fowler falls two spots, even after two made cuts, due to the strong play of others in the ranking.
U.S. Open Prediction: Fowler struggles with his iron play (he's 132nd in greens in regulation). Even though he's a quality scrambler, having to get up-and-down for par at the U.S. Open is a tall order and one no golfer wants to face routinely. Rickie will make the cut, but won't place inside the top 40.
Previous Rank: N/A
Best of 2013: Bill Haas tied for third at the Northern Trust Open. He's also carded six top-10 finishes in 14 events.
Why He's Here: After a T4 finish at the Memorial on the heels of two missed cuts, Haas is back in the ranking.
U.S. Open Prediction: Haas missed the cut at the U.S. Open last year. Given his inconsistency as of late, he's likely to do the same again this year.
Previous Rank: 17
Best of 2013: At the RBC Heritage, Luke Donald tied for third. He's made eight of eight cuts and has two top-10 finishes.
Why He's Here: Donald falls a couple of spots in this list, even with a made cut in his only PGA Tour start since the Players, due to a missed cut at one the European Tour's most significant events, the BMW PGA Championship.
U.S. Open Prediction: Although his game seems made for the U.S. Open, Donald hasn't impressed at the event in his career. He's missed two cuts at Open venues in the last four years and barely finished inside the top 50 in the other two. It's unlikely the Englishman will finish inside the top 20 this year.
Previous Rank: 16
Best of 2013: Louis Oosthuizen's best finish on the PGA Tour this year came at the Shell Houston Open, where he tied for 10th. He's made five of eight cuts.
Why He's Here: Oosthuizen falls from 16th to 19th after a withdrawal at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
U.S. Open Prediction: In three starts at the U.S. Open, King Louis has missed the cut twice and finished inside the top 10 once. As he's struggled with his accuracy this year (he's hit 58.8 percent of fairways), it's likely that he'll have difficulty making the cut outside Philadelphia this year.
Previous Rank: 14
Best of 2013: Dustin Johnson won the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. After multiple health issues, he notched a tie for 10th at last week's FedEx St. Jude Classic. He also finished tied for 13th at the Masters.
Why He's Here: Johnson missed the cut at the Memorial after withdrawing from the Players.
U.S. Open Prediction: A tie for eighth at the 2010 U.S. Open is Dustin Johnson's best finish at the national championship. However, he missed the cut at the tournament last year, when he was more accurate off the tee than he's been in 2013 (he's finding a dismal 49 percent of fairways). Given this, DJ doesn't make the cut this year.
Previous Rank: 16
Best of 2013: Bubba Watson finished tied for fourth in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He's made the cut in nine of 11 starts on tour this season.
Why He's Here: Bubba's made two cuts since the last ranking.
U.S. Open Prediction: It's difficult to see Watson hitting enough fairways or making enough putts to do much more than eke inside the cut line at Merion.
Previous Rank: 11
Best of 2013: Lee Westwood has made 10 of 11 cuts and finished tied for fourth at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Why He's Here: After withdrawing from the Memorial Tournament as he was certain to miss the cut, Westwood tumbles a few places in the ranking.
U.S. Open Prediction: As one of the worst putters on tour, it's remarkable that Lee Westwood has played well at U.S. Opens in the past.
The last two years, Westwood has finished inside the top 10. Given this, another top-10 finish should be in the cards for the man from Worksop, England.
Previous Rank: 19
Best of 2013: Hunter Mahan was the runner-up to Matt Kuchar at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. He's made 13 of 15 cuts and also finished in a tie for eighth at the Northern Trust Open.
Why He's Here: Mahan finished tied for 16th and tied for 26th in his two starts since the Players Championship. He moves up in the ranking accordingly.
U.S. Open Prediction: He has the tools to win a major, but hasn't fared particularly well in this one: Mahan's best finish at the U.S. Open was a tie for sixth in 2009, and he's missed the cut two out of the last three years. Given his improved putting this year, though, (112th to 29th in strokes gained-putting), he should finish inside the top 30.
Previous Rank: 7
Best of 2013: Webb Simpson finished second after losing in a playoff at the RBC Heritage. He's made 10 of 14 cuts and notched three top-10 finishes.
Why He's Here: In his only tournament since the Players, Simpson missed the cut badly at the Memorial.
U.S. Open Prediction: Last year's winner should perform well this year; Simpson will finish inside the top 20 at Merion, owing much to his belly putter and calm demeanor.
Previous Rank: 13
Best of 2013: Steve Stricker finished second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The Wisconsin native finished second at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, as well.
Why He's Here: Strick hasn't teed it up since the Players, so he hasn't moved.
U.S. Open Prediction: A player whose game seems suited to the USGA's setups, Stricker finished inside the top 20 at the previous two U.S. Opens. He'll do the same at Merion this year.
Previous Rank: 18
Best of 2013: Charl Schwartzel finished tied for third at the Northern Trust Open. He finished solo third at the HP Byron Nelson, too, in addition to making nine of 10 cuts.
Why He's Here: A relentlessly consistent performer, Schwartzel moves up the ranking based on his solid showings since the Players.
U.S. Open Prediction: It's difficult to imagine the South African finishing outside the top 20 this year.
Previous Rank: 12
Best of 2013: Jason Day put forth a strong showing at the Masters, finishing third. He finished third at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, also, and has notched five top-25 finishes.
Why He's Here: The New Zealander has made the cut in both of his starts since the Players, albeit not with overwhelming performances. Thus, he moves forward only a spot.
U.S. Open Prediction: Jason Day will have his second strong showing in a major this year. Even though he hasn't been accurate enough off the tee or with his approaches to contend consistently this year, he'll reprise his strong showing from the 2011 U.S. Open (where he finished second) to finish inside the top 10.
Previous Rank: 5
Best of 2013: A second-place finish at the Valero Texas Open is Rory McIlroy's best result of the 2013 season. Beyond that, he's made eight of nine cuts and finished tied for eighth at the Players Championship.
Why He's Here: After a string of solid showings, Rory made the cut on the number at the Memorial Tournament to raise questions about his game heading into the season's second major.
U.S. Open Prediction: The 2011 U.S. Open champion finished tied for 25th at the Masters this year. He might be able to improve on that showing slightly at the U.S. Open and finish inside the top 20. His putting, however, will keep him from finishing much higher.
Previous Rank: 15
Best of 2013: Keegan Bradley's best result of the year, thus far, is a second-place finish at the HP Byron Nelson.
Why He's Here: The near-win at the Byron Nelson propels Bradley back into position after a few missed cuts derailed him (including one at the Players).
U.S. Open Prediction: In his only career appearance at a U.S. Open, Bradley finished tied for 68th. With his putting improved since last year, the Vermont native should finish in the top 30.
Previous Rank: 6
Best of 2013: Certainly not his comments at the European Tour awards gala. Sergio finished tied for third at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and tied for eighth at the Masters.
Why He's Here: Sergio hasn't played on the PGA Tour since his meltdown at the Players Championship. He made the cut at an event in Europe, but still falls two places.
U.S. Open Prediction: Given everything that's swirling around Sergio this week, it's tough to imagine that he'll finish inside the top 25.
Previous Rank: 9
Best of 2013: Justin Rose snuck in the back door to finish second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Additionally, he's made seven of eight cuts on the PGA Tour and notched four top-10 finishes.
Why He's Here: Rose moves to the seventh spot after rebounding nicely from a missed cut with a tie for eighth at the Memorial Tournament.
U.S. Open Prediction: Looking at Rose's statistics, it's clear that if he can putt, he can contend. Assuming the flatstick cooperates for Rosey, he'll finish inside the top 20.
Previous Rank: 8
Best of 2013: Phil "the Thrill" Mickelson won at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Beyond that, he tied for second at last week's FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Why He's Here: After a strong post-Players showing, Lefty moves up.
U.S. Open Prediction: Who knows? Phil finished tied for 65th last year. If the driver cooperates he'll be much more of a threat. He's actually less accurate off the tee that he was last year (64 vs. 65 percent). Given this, it's tough to think Mickelson's going to do anything outstanding. He'll finish inside the top 30, maybe 25.
Previous Rank: 10
Best of 2013: Graeme McDowell won the RBC Heritage in a playoff. He also has four top-10s in eight starts.
Why He's Here: "G-Mac" is moving on up, even with a missed cut in his last European Tour event.
U.S. Open Prediction: He'll have to hit more greens in regulation than he has been (62 percent) in order to contend and reprise his fine showing from last year (tie for second).
Previous Rank: 2
Best of 2013: Brandt Snedeker began the year on a hot streak. He's cooled off lately, however, with missed cuts at his last two tour stops.
Why He's Here: Snedeker's simply not getting it done during the second quarter of the year. His nebulous (but undoubtedly legitimate) rib injury has been compromising his play.
U.S. Open Prediction: The ribs will do Snedeker in; he struggles to make the cut this week.
Previous Rank: 3
Best of 2013: The Masters winner remains perched in the No. 3 spot. Additionally, Adam Scott finished tied for 13th at the Memorial Tournament.
Why He's Here: Adam Scott has played consistent golf and won a major, where else would he be?
U.S. Open Prediction: Scott finished tied for 15th at the U.S. Open last year, however, he missed the cut at the event the two years prior. This year, Scotty continues his hot streak and notches a top-10 finish at Merion.
Previous Rank: 4
Best of 2013: Moving forward to the No. 2 spot on the list, Matt Kuchar has won twice in 2013 (WGC-Accenture, Memorial) and notched a second-place finish at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.
Why He's Here: Kuch moves up from the No. 4 spot to officially challenge Tiger for the No. 1 position with his win at Memorial.
U.S. Open Prediction: Kuchar has only one top-10 finish at the U.S. Open in his career. Expect that to change this week. No golfer is hotter than Kuchar, at present.
Previous Rank: 1
Best of 2013: Four wins: Farmers Insurance Open, WGC-Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship.
Why He's Here: Yes, Tiger laid an egg at Muirfield Village. However, he's won three out of his last five starts.
U.S. Open Prediction: According to the oddsmakers, Tiger's the surest bet to win the tournament. And who are we mere mortals to argue with them?