Rory McIlroy and Most Disappointing Stars Heading into US Open 2013

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Rory McIlroy and Most Disappointing Stars Heading into US Open 2013
USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy isn't entering the U.S. Open after the best tournament of his career.

Rory McIlroy may be one of the favorites entering the 2013 U.S. Open, but he’s also been one of the more disappointing golfers recently.

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McIlroy has won the U.S. Open in the past—back in 2011—but hasn’t performed too well as of late. In his last four tournaments, he’s only placed in the top 10 once, coming at the Wells Fargo Championship. He played poorly at the Masters, finishing two over and tying for 25th place.

It was thought that McIlroy might be able to turn things around after a good performance at The Players Championship in mid-May, but everything went down the drain around a week ago at the Memorial Tournament. While he made the cut, he finished tied for 57th at six over.

Coming off of the poor weekend in Dublin, Ohio, McIlroy will look to bounce back by winning his second career major tournament. But aside from the Northern Ireland native, who else will enter Merion Golf Club with something to prove? Let’s a take look at the golfers in a similar position to McIlroy.

 

Jim Furyk

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Furyk usually plays his best golf at the U.S. Open. It’s the only major tournament he’s ever won in his career, and he’s had a bunch of top finishes there as well. After missing the cut in 2011, Furyk finished three over a year ago, tying for fourth in the tournament standings.

This year will be the 19th time Furyk plays at the U.S. Open, and he’ll hope to make it the second major victory of his career. Furyk grew up relatively close to Merion Golf Club, in Lancaster, Penn., and he is looking forward to the homecoming, according to Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“I put a lot of extra pressure on myself,” he said. “Playing near home can have its pluses and minuses but I want to focus on the good things about it—having friends and family in the gallery and a lot of people pulling for me. That far outweighs any negatives. I’ll just have to go out there and not put so much pressure on myself and see how well I can play.”

Furyk will also be hoping not to play like he has played recently. He hasn’t finished inside the top 20 since the first week of April. He finished in a tie for third at the Valero Texas Open, but he wasn’t impressive at the Masters and hasn't had an impressive performance since the first major tournament of the year.

While Furyk has finished his last pair of tournaments under par, he hasn’t played well enough to finish among the leaders. He was four under at the Crowne Plaza Invitational—tying for 31st—and then one under at the Memorial Tournament—tying for 21st. Furyk has only finished in the top 10 twice in 12 events in 2013.

 

Zach Johnson

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Johnson has failed to hit his stride at the U.S. Open since he first played the major tournament back in 2004. He tied for 48th place in his first attempt at winning the tournament but has been cut four times since. Of the other four years, he hasn’t finished inside the top 30.

The U.S. Open has easily been Johnson’s worst major. He won the Masters back in 2007 and has placed in the top 20 at the Open Championship and the PGA Championship three times apiece. I’m sure he’d much rather be at one of those three majors this weekend instead of at Merion Golf Club.

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Here’s what Johnson told Mike Hlas of KCRG about the upcoming major:

“I feel like my game is prepared and ready for [the Open],” Johnson said. “I’ve played in every arena in golf and for the most part, excelled and executed when I had to in every area. The atmosphere, the magnitude of it doesn’t necessarily get to me any more.”

Johnson told Hlas that his year has been “humbling." I like to think of it as up and down—and more down than up. He’s finished inside the top 10 just once on the year and has already been cut three times. Most recently, he finished 13 over at the Memorial Tournament, claiming 71st place. Johnson needs to step up his overall game.

 

Keegan Bradley

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Bradley is one of the younger players on the tour and usually one of the better ones. But that can’t really be said about the way he’s played in 2013. Bradley has struggled a lot this year, and the 2011 PGA Championship victor will enter the U.S. Open in a bit of a slump.

Outside of a second-place finish at the Byron Nelson Championship, Bradley hasn’t been impressive since March. Yes, three months ago. He was forgettable at the Masters, finishing in a tie for 54th, and he was cut at the Zurich Classic and at The Players Championship.

Bradley played his best golf of the year about a month ago at the Byron Nelson but followed it up with another poor performance at the Memorial Tournament. There, Bradley made the cut but finished four over and in a tie for 50th place. That’s not the way you want to go into a major.

Bradley has only played in one U.S. Open in his career, coming last year when he had an underwhelming finish. Bradley managed to make the cut but ended up shooting 18 over and finishing in a tie for 68th place. It will be hard for Bradley to be worse this time around.

Bradley told Steve Serby of the New York Post that, even though he’s never played at Merion, he thinks he has a “decent” chance at winning the U.S. Open. We’ll have to see about that one, Keegan, but inexperience at a course doesn’t usually bode well—especially one like Merion.

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