2014 US Open Predictions: Last-Minute Picks and Projections

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2014 US Open Predictions: Last-Minute Picks and Projections
Pinehurst No. 2, site of this weeks U.S. Open, offers plenty of challenges.

This isn't your usual U.S. Open, and no, there is nothing wrong with your television screen.

The 2014 tournament is back at Pinehurst No. 2, where the U.S. Open champion also was decided in 1999 when Payne Stewart sank the 15-foot putt on No. 18 to beat a young Phil Mickelson by a single stroke; and in 2005, when little-known Michael Campbell emerged from relative golf obscurity to win a less memorable tournament and then quickly returned to it.

But this isn't the same course now as it was then, or even four years ago. That's because three years ago, the good folks who run the Pinehurst resort decided they wanted No. 2 to look and play more like it did way back when Donald Ross designed its first nine holes in 1901 and then continued to mess with it until his death in 1948.

So, according to the Boston Globe's Michael Whitmer, they called on the design team of Ben Crenshaw, a two-time major winner back when he played, and his business partner Bill Coore, a North Carolina native who used to play Pinehurst No. 2 regularly as a kid when he would pay $5 to play all day, as many holes as he would like. (Whitmer noted that the going rate for 18 holes at No. 2 today is $415, or 83 times as much.)

Crenshaw and Coore have given the course a new look, or rather more of its old look, adding more brown to its color by way of more than 40 acres of turf that was removed and replaced by "a combination of sand, wire grass, and pine straw that should produce roll-of-the-dice recovery shots," according to Whitmer.

So gentlemen, welcome to the U.S. Open's version of the British Open—and here are some last-minute picks and projections to chew on as the action commences.

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