US Open Championship 2013: Sleepers Who Will Contend at Merion

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US Open Championship 2013: Sleepers Who Will Contend at Merion
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The second major championship of the year is upon us, and the field is wide open for this year's U.S. Open.

While the course for this event will always be difficult with high rough and tough greens, Merion Golf Club could end up being a gift for many golfers. The course length of under 7,000 yards makes it the shortest U.S. Open course in nearly a decade, according to Charles Gille of The Guardian Express.

This will give those that do not have the best driving distance a chance to compete with the big boys in the tournament.

While Tiger Woods remains the favorite, these other golfers have the ability to surprise with a strong performance over the weekend.

 

Matt Kuchar

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Although he will not be sneaking up on anyone in the field, Matt Kuchar is relatively anonymous when it comes to the public. He has never won a major championship and is only recently becoming a consistent threat to win events.

That being said, no one is coming into the U.S. Open with more momentum than Kuchar. He won the Memorial Tournament with an impressive mark of 12 under and before that finished second at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

In reality, Woods is the only player on tour who has been more successful in 2013.

Kuchar only managed to finish tied for 27th at last year's championship, but he will almost certainly do better this time around.

 

Jim Furyk

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If there is one player who will be helped out the most by a short course, it is Jim Furyk.

The veteran currently ranks 169th on tour in average driving distance, but he is fourth in accuracy. He has hit the fairway in an impressive 70.67 percent of drives.

Merion requires this type of accuracy on every shot, as well as the confidence to hit through small windows. Furyk's experience will help a lot at this historic golf course.

Although the 2003 winner only has two top-10 finishes this year, he should be in line for a strong finish at the U.S. Open.

 

Steve Stricker

Harry How/Getty Images

Like Furyk, Steve Stricker is successful despite not being a big hitter off the tee. He is simply consistent enough to get greens in regulation and then finish with solid putting.

This has led to a decent amount of success this season with a second-place finish in his first two stroke-play tournaments. Although he has struggled a bit in the last three tournaments, he should be well-rested for the week ahead and should be ready to post low scores right away.

Stricker might be on the downswing of his career, but he is still more than capable of competing in the biggest tournaments of the year. The young guns better watch out for him on the course.

 

Billy Horschel

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

While the veteran players should do well at Merion, it is important not to count out the new guys. Billy Horschel turned pro in 2009 and has never competed in a major championship as a professional.

However, the 26-year-old golfer has played extremely well recently and could be a legitimate contender at the U.S. Open.

So far this season, Horschel has six top-10 finishes, including a victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. His solid all-around game has helped him rank second on tour with an average of 4.57 birdies per round.

If he can keep up this momentum and not be intimidated by the surroundings, he should have a strong showing at the major.

Note: All stats courtesy of PGATour.com.

 

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