U.S. Open 2011: 10 Favorites Heading to Congressional

John BurkeContributor IJune 6, 2011

U.S. Open 2011: 10 Favorites Heading to Congressional

0 of 10

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 11:  Tiger Woods smiles during a practice round prior to the start of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 11, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Im
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The U.S. Open is approaching quickly. The first round of play is just over a week away, and everyone is already wondering who is going to win.

    The truth is, it is quite a jumble up top. There is no clear-cut winner this year.

    In previous years, Tiger Woods was always the favorite—but this is not the Tiger of 2008. In fact, a big reason Tiger even receives favorable odds is because of his past. 

    Regardless, this year's U.S. Open is building up to be an exciting one. 

    Will we see a new No. 1?

    Will Tiger finally get back on track?

    Will Phil Mickelson finally win the title?

    Those are all questions that remain to be answered.

Luke Donald: 10-1

1 of 10

    DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 04:  Luke Donald of England walks down the fairway on the par 4 1st during the third round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 4, 2011 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    No one in golf is hotter than Luke Donald right now.

    Donald finished seventh in the Memorial this past weekend, only a week after taking down Lee Westwood for the world's No.1 ranking.

    Also this season, Donald won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Even more impressive, Donald has notched eight top-10 finishes this year on tour.

    He may deserve a little better odds than this based on his performance this year, but Donald still needs to prove himself in majors.

Tiger Woods: 12-1

2 of 10

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 12:  Tiger Woods looks on from the fifth hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    In Tiger Woods' last competitive round, he carded a 42 on the front nine at Sawgrass and promptly withdrew from The Players Championship.

    At this point, I am relying on speculation Woods will be playing in the U.S. Open. We know he is still injured, but the extent of those injuries remains a mystery. 

    If Woods tees it up at Congressional, it will have been more than 1,000 days since his last major win, over 600 since his last tour win. 

    While these odds are generous, Woods is still Woods and should still be considered a threat. 

Phil Mickelson: 12-1

3 of 10

    DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 03:  Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the first hole during the second round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at the Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 3, 2011 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by Scott Halleran
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Lefty has put together a solid showing this year. 

    He won the Shell Houston Open earlier this season and is coming off a 13th-place finish at the Memorial. His fairway accuracy has been at a dismal 52 percent.

    However, the U.S. Open is the tournament Mickelson wants the most. He let one slip away at Winged Foot in 2006. If he finds a way to keep the ball in the short grass, he is a threat at Congressional. 

Lee Westwood: 14-1

4 of 10

    VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - MAY 29:  Lee Westwood of England tees off on the 17th hole during the final round of the BMW PGA Championship  at the Wentworth Club on May 29, 2011 in Virginia Water, England.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    Lee Westwood is always a threat if his putter is hot. That is a big if, though. 

    Westwood's best placing in the U.S Open was a third-place finish at Torrey Pines in 2008. Westwood finished well out of contention the last few years.

    Thus far in 2011, Westwood has one win on the European Tour and none on the PGA Tour. While he was ranked No.1 in the world for a brief period, Westwood needs to step up his game at Congressional. 

Rory McIlroy: 16-1

5 of 10

    DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 05:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his tee shot on the par 4 9th hole during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 5, 2011 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    It is hard to forget Rory McIlroy's crushing collapse at the 2011 Masters.

    Surprisingly, McIlroy has bounced back very well. Due to his young age, McIlroy knows he has more time to compete in majors. 

    While he knows he let the Masters slip away, McIlroy is a good enough player to be in the hunt again soon. In fact, if his putter is as hot as it was the Memorial, McIlroy will be in the hunt at Congressional.  

Martin Kaymer: 20-1

6 of 10

    VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - MAY 28:  Martin Kaymer of Germany tees off during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship at the Wentworth Club on May 28, 2011 in Virginia Water, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Martin Kaymer is another player who briefly held the No. 1 ranking after Tiger relinquished it. 

    So far this year, Kaymer has performed well—minus the missed cut at Augusta. 

    After grabbing his first major at last season's PGA Championship, Kaymer is looking for major No. 2. He finished eighth last year in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and looks to improve on that in 2011. 

Dustin Johnson: 25-1

7 of 10

    DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 02:  Dustin Johnson hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at the Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 2, 2011 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Gett
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Dustin Johnson's 2011 campaign has been filled with ups and downs. He ended up finishing eighth at the Memorial after carding more final-round birdies than the two previous rounds combined. 

    This year, we have seen Johnson in contention on Friday and Saturday but fall out of contention by Sunday. Much of this can be blamed on his putter, as he ranks near the bottom in putting stats. 

    Last year at the U.S. Open, we all remember his choke job. This year, he can either run and hide or build on that experience. 

    Which Johnson will show up?

    We will find out when play starts.

Hunter Mahan: 25-1

8 of 10

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 14:  Hunter Mahan plays a pitch shot during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 14, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Based on his past play at Congressional, Mahan is a very solid pick to win the U.S. Open.

    He has been playing well this year, with five top 10's in his last nine starts on tour. 

    At nearly 30 years old, Mahan is looking to prove himself as a top player. To do so, he needs to seriously contend—if not win—at Congressional. 

Nick Watney: 25-1

9 of 10

    IRVING, TX - MAY 27: Nick Watney follows through on a tee shot during the second round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas on May 27, 2011 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
    Darren Carroll/Getty Images

    Nick Watney is peaking at the right time. 

    Watney won the WGC Cadillac Championship and has seven top 10's in 11 events in 2011. Those are the stats of a player destined to win a major soon.

    The reason his odds are where they are is due to his past U.S. Open performances. Watney has done terrible in the U.S. Open with two missed cuts, a 60th-place finish and a 76th-place result last year. 

    Look for him to improve this year.

Steve Stricker: 28-1

10 of 10

    DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 05:  Steve Stricker poses with the trophy after winning the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at the Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 5, 2011 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Stricker shot up the board with his win this past weekend at the Memorial. His game was good and his putting was great. Those two things bode well for him heading to Congressional.

    At 44, Stricker's window for winning a major is closing quickly. As one of the tour's nicest guys, it is hard for him not to be every fan's favorite.