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2011 U.S. Open Favorites: Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and the Top Contenders

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2011 U.S. Open Favorites: Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and the Top Contenders
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There’s no longer an elephant in the room about whether or not professional golf’s increasingly melodramatic and dethroned king, Tiger Woods, will be competing in the US Open. Once Woods’ tweet went viral, effectively taking himself out of one the year’s most thrilling major championships, the succession of events probably looked something like this:

Somewhere a T.V. executive yelled and threw his i-Phone 4 against a wall as he watched the ratings already begin to dwindle; the blogosphere began rapidly pumping out articles like McDonald’s makes French fries and Jack Nickalus—golf’s eternal golden bear—took a sip of the overpriced scotch in his left hand followed by a silky puff of his cigar in his right and blew out smoke in the sweet security of his record of 18 major championships becoming more and more untouchable.

But on putting greens and driving ranges and in sand traps and weight rooms all over the world, a bevy of the most talented golfers were simply going about their business.

That is because as athletes—whether they’re the kind that score touchdowns, drain buzzer-beating shots or whack tiny, little, white balls sky-high in the air—they have no other choice, no other calling, no other comfort than to compete.

This Thursday, June 16, the US Open returns to the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland—a monstrous and agonizing test for any and every golfer willing to tee it up.  Taming this beast—which measures 7,250 yards—demands as much skill as it does mental toughness. The field is stacked with players vying to not only have their names etched into golf’s history books, but to prove to the sports world that even in the midst of what may be becoming a Tiger-less world of golf, there is still something spectacular to revel in.   

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