U.S. Open Golf 2010: Top Players to Watch at Pebble Beach
It has been 10 long years since the U.S. Open has been played at the notoriously difficult links of Pebble Beach.
Back then, Tiger Woods was on top of his game and destroyed the competition on his way to an astounding 12-shot victory. He won the tournament with an 18-under and established himself as one of the most dominant golfers in golf.
Now, the field looks to be wide open as Tiger gets back into the swing of things after off-the-field problems and a neck injury.
Will Tiger bounce back at the course that helped start his legacy? Will Phil Mickelson build off his victory at Augusta? Will Lee Westwood break through and win his first major?
We'll find out this weekend. Without further ado, here are the top contenders to watch this weekend at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
10. Lucas Glover
Glover has some momentum coming into this year's Open after his steady performance at Bethpage Black won him the 2009 U.S. Open.
The win gives Glover confidence as he heads into this year's Open, but history doesn't seem to favor an Open champion. Only two players have ever repeated as Open champions (Curtis Strange, Ben Hogan). Glover is not nearly as good as these two golfers were.
After doing well on one of the toughest courses in America at Bethpage, Glover will try to subdue the demons in hopes of repeating at another tough course in Pebble Beach.
9. Dustin Johnson
When he has played at Pebble Beach before, the 25-year-old Johnson has shown he has the course figured out.
He's won the last two AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Ams at the location, giving him a great boost of confidence and experience at the course.
The only problem is Johnson hasn't cracked the top 40 at the last two U.S. Opens.
The course will also be substantially altered compared to when Johnson won the two other events at Pebble Beach.
8. Luke Donald
Donald has shown some recent success. He has finished in the top 10 four times already this year and did fairly well in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this season.
With some momentum on his side, Donald is hoping it will carry over to this weekend.
The only problem for Donald is what the weather might bring. Without a lot of power, Donald will struggle if the weather is unfavorable at Pebble Beach.
7. Steve Stricker
Stricker has been one of the top golfers in 2010. He has finished in the top 10 in four events and is currently ranked No. 4 in the world rankings.
He also played well in the last few U.S. Opens, finishing near the top in two of the last four Opens.
Stricker does have the advantage of being one of golf's best putters, but the greens will be a challenge at Pebble Beach. They are known as some of the hardest in the world.
6. Jim Furyk
Furyk is one of the hottest golfers on the tour right now, winning two events before the U.S. Open.
The stat is a good sign for Furyk, who has never had two victories before the Open during his career.
Furyk has to shake off his last Pebble Beach experience at the U.S. Open, when he played horribly. He was never in contention and shot an 84 during his final round.
5. Ernie Els
Els is gaining momentum in 2009 and 2010, finishing in the top 10 twice at the end of 2009 and doing fairly well at the Masters earlier this year.
He also was able to string together a solid performance last time Pebble Beach was the U.S. Open course, when he finished second behind Tiger's amazing performance.
Although Els is getting older, if he can put together a performance like he did 10 years ago, he may just surprise everyone and take this one home.
4. Rory McIlroy
The boy wonder has been one of the most watched players since the beginning of 2009.
McIlroy has been a top performer in his short PGA career. He's finished in the top 10 five times in his 20 PGA events since becoming a regular on the tour in 2009.
Will Pebble Beach be when the 21-year-old breaks through and wins his first major? McIlroy has showed glimpses of greatness. If he can put it all together, he just might surprise everyone with a victory.
3. Tiger Woods
Woods is not nearly in the same form he was during his amazing Pebble Beach performance 10 years ago.
He hasn't looked the same after taking time off because of his off-the-course issues and has been slowed due to a neck injury. He hasn't regained the form that made him the best player in golf.
But if anyone else is able to put aside the elements for a weekend, it's Woods. Tiger will come into this weekend extremely focused. Let's see if he can surprise some people.
2. Phil Mickelson
Lefty is arguably the hottest and best golfer currently on the tour.
He's coming off the momentum of winning the Masters earlier this year, and has three top-five finishes in his last five events.
Add the fact that Mickelson has five runner-ups at the U.S. Open. Lefty will undoubtedly motivated in this year's Open after being on the doorstep so many other times.
Hopefully all the second-place finishes don't get to his head. If they don't he could bring home his second straight major.
1. Lee Westwood
Westwood has been knocking on the door of a major victory. Pebble Beach could very well be the first time that door opens.
Westwood is widely regarded as the top golfer without a major win. He's been in the top three in the last three majors. He nipped at the heels of Mickelson at the Masters and has to be highly motivated to pull a victory out.
To take home that major, Westwood can't fade late at Pebble Beach. He's missed big putts late in majors that could have kept him in contention for a win.
With that said, Westwood has all the tools necessary to take home the trophy. If he can put them all together at Pebble Beach, look for him to take home his first major.