2011 US Open Odds: Why Phil Mickelson is Vegas' Favorite to Win

Paul Carreau@@PaulCarreauAnalyst IJune 14, 2011

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 14: Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the fifth hole 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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson will head in to the 2011 US Open at Congressional much the same way he enters every other tournament that he participates in. He goes in to this one as one of the odds-on favorites to win.

Mickelson is a four-time Major champion. He has three Masters victories to his credit, as well as a PGA Championship.

He has played well in several US Opens over the years, but so far has come away winless in all 21 of his starts. He has finished a heartbreaking second in five different Opens, and posted top-10s three other times.

While Mickelson has turned in some decent results in past US Open Championships, one of those was not at Congressional in 1997, the only time Mickelson has played an Open at this course. That year he finished in a tie for 43rd.

It should come as no surprise that Mickelson goes to Congressional as the favorite to finally win that long awaited first US Open championship. But let's look a little deeper, and really find out why he is the favorite, considering he has never won this championship.

The first reason that most people would point to is the fact that Tiger Woods is not playing this year. Whether he is completely healthy or barely able to walk, Woods is the favorite at every tournament he enters. With Woods not competing that automatically moves everyone else up the odds sheet.

Mickelson comes in to this year's US Open ranked eighth on the PGA Tour's money list, and fifth in world ranking.

The 2011 season has been another successful one for him. He has one tournament win to his credit this season, when he notched the win at the Shell Houston Open back in April.

Mickelson also had a runner-up finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. He has four top-10s, and seven finishes inside the top-25.

This year's US Open will feature the second longest course in Open history in terms of total yardage. At 7,250 yards, hitting the ball long and straight off the tees is imperative. Mickelson can certainly hit the ball a long way, and if he can find a way to keep it in the fairways, Las Vegas will be spot on accurate in terms of making him the odds-on favorite.

Mickelson ranks 18th in driving distance at just under 300 yards a drive. His fairways in regulation leave a little to be desired though, as he ranks just 163rd in that category, hitting the fairway just over 53 percent of the time.

The one key statistic for Lefty this week is the fact that he is sixth in terms of greens in regulation when hitting from off the fairway. That is a very impressive stat considering how often he misses the fairway.

With the US Open being the toughest tournament in golf, it is imperative that you have good recovery skills, and we have seen time and time again that there is no one better than Mickelson at making the best out of a bad situation on the golf course.

While the US Open features all the top golfers in the world, only one can win the tournament. And, only one can be considered the favorite to win going in to the tournament.

This year, with Phil Mickelson being Vegas' pick to win the whole thing, the odds-on favorite may turn out to be the man holding the trophy when it is all said and done.