Top golfers don't always win big tournaments.
In fact, in recent history it's been a rare occasion, as long-shot golfers have been surprisingly winning the majors since Tiger Woods' last win in 2008. Woods is back on top of his game, but there are some other top golfers who won't be in contention this weekend at the 2013 U.S. Open.
The East Course at Merion Golf Club is a deceptively brutal stretch of 18 holes that will test the players to the limit. Though it measures in at under 7,000 yards, it has impressed Jack Nicklaus, who said, "Acre for acre, [Merion] may be the best test of golf in the world."
With a clever mix of short par-fours, long par-threes, really long par-fours and just two par-fives, the East Course is set up in such a way that players who are not on top of their games will fail miserably.
These notable players won't come close to finishing in the top 10—let alone winning the tournament.
Lefty just played well enough to finish in second place at the FedEx St. Jude Classic this past weekend, but his good finish won't translate to success at Merion.
Looking at Mickelson's performances in recent majors and other big tournaments, it's clear he isn't as sharp as he used to be when the courses become more difficult. Recently, Mickelson missed the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and at the Players Championship, and he finished in 54th place at the Masters.
Since winning the Masters in 2010, he's finished outside the top 10 nine times out of 12, and he failed to finish in the top 50 the past two years at the U.S. Open.
Furthermore, Mickelson's game isn't suited for success at Merion. He struggles to hit fairways and isn't sharp with his long irons, hitting the green just 36.59 percent of the time from over 200 yards out.
With long par-fours and par-threes littering the landscape at this year's U.S. Open, Mickelson will struggle to make the cut.
Winner of the 2011 U.S. Open, McIlroy, who is the world's No. 2 golfer, seems like a strong contender for this year's tournament.
McIlroy has been abysmal of late. In his last two starts, he missed the cut at the BMW Championship and came in 57th place at the Memorial, where he barely made the cut. He also missed the cut in two of the last three U.S. Opens—his win sandwiched in between them.
He ranks No. 123 on the PGA Tour in the "strokes gained-putting" stat, averaging -.158 strokes per hole.
Furthermore, he hits the fairway off the tee less than 59 percent of the time, and he's been struggling to get the ball close on his approach shots.
It's really tough to shoot low with this collection of struggles, and, like Mickelson, McIlroy will struggle to make the cut.
Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, has traditionally struggled at the U.S. Open.
In six previous appearances, Watson has missed the cut three times—including last year—and has finished outside the top 10 five times. Watson has also struggled of late, missing one cut and finishing no higher than 15th place in his last five tournaments.
A brilliant ball-striker with his short irons, Watson struggles to hit fairways off the tee (56.39 percent). He is an average putter who plays his best when he is firing shots tight to the pin.
Watson just isn't playing well enough right now to make a push up the leaderboard, and it shouldn't surprise anyone if he missed out on playing this weekend.
Note: All stats courtesy of PGATour.com
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