Winning the U.S. Open is a great way to boost your career and gain respect around the golf community. Of course, the winner is also presented with a nice big check at the end.
The prize money for the prestigious event continues to rise, making a victory even more desirable than usual. ESPN's Darren Rovell notes the recent increase:
This year's purse will total $8,000,000, which is on par with what it has been the last few years, according to PGATour.com.
While the official numbers are not released until after the conclusion of the tournament on Sunday, we can make projections based on previous year's totals. Here is a look at a potential breakdown of payouts for the top 10 followed by the favorites to win the event.
|2014 U.S. Open Prize Distribution Projections|
If you are betting on someone to finish in the top 10, you will not find a better pick. Rory McIlroy always seems to find a way to get near the top of the leaderboard by the end of Round 4 regardless of what he does throughout the weekend.
Of course, his lack of consistency is what has prevented him from winning a tournament in the United States since 2012. In 2014, he has as many rounds of 75 or higher as he does rounds of 65 or lower (five each).
At the Memorial Tournament, McIlroy followed up a 63 from Round 1 with a 78 in Round 2, something that is not often seen.
As a result, the young golfer turned to Jack Nicklaus for some advice. McIlroy explained the wisdom to reporters, via Bob Harig of ESPN.com:
He said to me he was never afraid to change things up in the middle of a round if it wasn't going well, if he felt like he wasn't swinging well. He'd make a swing change right then and there.
The mental strength to be able to do that and trust what you're doing. But I had a great conversation with Jack and I feel very honored that I'm able to call him up for advice, if I need to. And he's been very generous with his time. Some of the things he said to me, I'm really thinking about going into this week. He was a great U.S. Open player and hopefully some of those little nuggets of wisdom that he passed on to me might help this week.
It remains to be seen if McIlroy can learn anything from the experience, but there is no denying his pure talent. If he can gain some consistency and avoid bogeys, he should end up near the top of the leaderboard once again.
Over the past two years, Adam Scott has taken over the golf world. He won the 2013 Masters Tournament and finished in the top five at both the British Open and the PGA Championship, helping him ascend to the No. 1 spot in the world.
Unfortunately, Justin Ray of Golf Channel notes that the No. 1 ranking is not always a good thing for this tournament:
Meanwhile, the bigger problem for Scott has been his personal struggles at the U.S. Open, according to ESPN:
In fact, Scott has not made the cut in two of the last four years. Considering his overall talent, it seems like a fluke. He can drive it far and straight while making quality shots all over the course.
Nothing has changed at this tournament, but the fact remains that if he plays to his ability, few players in this field can match him.
No one has had as many close calls as Phil Mickelson. The veteran has finished in second place an incredible six times in the U.S. Open, leaving him one major short of the career Grand Slam.
While the combination of poor finishes, great competition and bad luck has stopped him in the past, he is one of the top contenders to bring home a title this time around.
Chris Cutmore of the Daily Mail breaks down why the course at Pinehurst will help Lefty this weekend:
The player who will get his hands on the trophy will need to shine from tee to green, possess the short game to bail him out of trouble when needed, have a proven ability to putt on superfast greens and have the x-factor to deal with the quirks of this classic course. All of which points to Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson has been all over the place this year, missing a number of cuts in smaller events. However, he always seems to come through for the U.S. Open.
The key for him will be to continue to dominate with the wedges and keep himself in good position to post low scores. On the final day, he will need to use his experience in big moments to find a way to close things out.
If he can get some breaks in this storied championship, he will finally be able to complete the Grand Slam.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.