U.S. Open Picks 2013: Projecting Final Scores for World's Top Golfers

Tim KeeneyContributor IJune 11, 2013

ARDMORE, PA - JUNE 11:  Tiger Woods of the United States hits a tee shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 113th U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club on June 11, 2013 in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The U.S. Open is typically a grueling tournament where players who do their best to stay close to par will be in contention on Sunday, but this year will be different.

While there are a few incredibly difficult holes—the gargantuan 256-yard par-three third and unreachable 628-yard par-five fourth come to mind—at Merion Golf Course, it is, on average, very short, stretching to just 6,996 total yards.

Couple that with the rain, which should make for soft greens and wide, easily accessible fairways, and birdies are going to be plentiful this week. 

You can never overlook the U.S. Open, which is seemingly always daunting no matter the course and conditions, but it's safe to say it will take a score well under par to be crowned champion in 2013. 

With that being said, let's take a look at how the world's top-ranked golfers—and threesome for the first two rounds—will fare. 


Tiger Woods

All of the talk right now seems to be surrounding Woods' (lack of) friendship with Sergio Garcia, but let's not forget this is the world's best golfer and overwhelming favorite. 

Eldrick may be coming off a 65th-place finish at the Memorial Tournament, in which he shot an eight-over for the tournament and atrocious seven-over on the weekend, but that's a minor blip in what has been a vintage season for one of the best ever. 

In eight events, Woods has made the cut all eight times, secured five top-10 finishes and tallied four wins. His only top 10 that didn't translate into a victory was his fourth-place finish at the Masters, in which he was penalized two strokes for an illegal drop. 

As long as he continues to putt as well as he has (fifth on Tour in strokes gained), he is going to destroy a short Merion course.

Prediction: -11


Rory McIlroy

Suddenly, the pressure is on McIlroy—well, at least as much pressure as possible for a 24-year-old ranked second in the world. 

But, after seemingly separating himself from the rest of the Tour with a brilliant 2012 season, McIlroy has taken a step back with an uneven 2013 first half. 

In nine starts, he has made the cut eight times and finished in the top 10 on four occasions. However, he has zero wins and just one top-five finish to show for it. 

Still, despite the inconsistency, don't overlook the youngster. He finished tied for eighth at the Players Championship—AKA the fifth major—a month ago and is fourth on Tour in GIR percentage.

Moreover, the slow greens should help his putting, which is what he has struggled with immensely this year.

McIlroy isn't going to repeat his magical 2011 championship, but he also won't miss the cut for the second year in a row. 

Prediction: -3


Adam Scott

Death, taxes, and Adam Scott being in contention at major tournaments. 

Since the beginning of 2011, those have been the only certainties in life. 

In his last nine majors, Scott has made the cut eight times (with the one exception coming at the U.S. Open in 2011). In those tournaments, he has a win (earlier this year at the Masters), four more top-10 finishes, two more top-15 finishes and a 25th-place finish. 

For the past year and change, no one has come close to rivaling the 32-year-old Australian in terms of consistency at majors, per ESPN's Justin Ray:

Scott's season has echoed that consistency: seven tournaments, seven cuts made and five top-25 finishes.

You can bet he'll be around on Sunday. 

Prediction: -10