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2011 US Open Golf: The 10 Most Important Questions Heading into Day 1

Immer ChriswellCorrespondent IJune 15, 2011

2011 US Open Golf: The 10 Most Important Questions Heading into Day 1

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:   Luke Donald of England waits to play a bunker shot on the practice ground during a practice round prior to the start of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 14, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kin
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    We are officially into the US Open week. All players will be on hand for Wednesday's practice round, giving everyone a good look at what is out there this week.

    The course is ready, and the players are as ready as they will be. So what does the first day of tournament play have for us? Nobody knows. 

    But what are the questions everyone wants answered?

Will the Course Be Too Hard or Too Easy?

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:  Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland hits a shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 14, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    The USGA has taken a lot of flack for easy course set up in the past few years. However, Congressional has the capability to be a nasty, big course if they want it to be. After tomorrow night, the rough mower should be put away for the weekend. Make the greens hard.

    Unfortunately, the weather may inhibit some of this, but seriously the rough should just be left alone. Make the tour player learn to hit a fairway or pay a dear price.

    However, the USGA will probably take it easy for Day 1. They won't want to chance it with the weather, and hopefully that won't be a theme for the tournament.

Who Will Be the Unknown to Capture Our Attention?

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:   Martin Laird of Scotland  hits a shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 14, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Unfortunately, Spencer Levin will not be here to take an early lead. However, I do have one name that I like for a few reasons: Martin Laird. He shouldn't be unknown with his play this year, but he is a player to fly under the radar.

    If there's one player I would classify as the unknown to the public who has a huge winning potential, it's Laird. His consistency has shown this year, and this may be his breakout major.

    However, that also leaves about 130 more golfers who are unknowns who can bring it too.

Weather Report?

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    FARMINGDALE, NY - JUNE 20:  Camilo Villegas of Colombia and Stewart Cink stand with their caddies under umbrellas in the rain during the third round of the 109th U.S. Open on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park on June 20, 2009 in Farmingdale, New Yor
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Unfortunately, the weather is looking grim for Thursday. However, the average weatherman is wrong more than right two days before the prediction. So let's hope that this 60 percent chance of rain dissipates quickly and doesn't reach Congressional.

    Perfect conditions only, please.

What Hole Will Play the Hardest?

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 13:   Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium putts in front of the clubhouse during a practice round prior to the start of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 13, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Gett
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    There are a lot of holes that present a challenge at Congressional. With it's improvements, 18 presents a challenge, as does 10. Phil Mickelson professed his distaste of the hole today.

    At 213 yards, a 200-yard carry is necessary to carry the water. And the green is wider than it is deep, so to stop the ball in dry conditions will be a task. 

    Best bet. Put it in the hole in one.

    What are your bets on the hardest hole? Remember, 10 and 18 make up only a small portion of the challenge.

How Many Rounds in the 60s?

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    UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11:  Phil Mickelson during the fourth round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California on February 11, 2007.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
    Michael Cohen/Getty Images

    If the USGA is nice, there will be plenty of rounds in the 60s. However, if they finally decide to give a challenge, then the rounds in the 60s will be 70s, and the 70s will turn into 80s.

    To put a solid number on the line, I will say five rounds under 70. The course is a par 71, so only two-under par is needed. But good luck needing only two birdies to get that 69.

Phil Mickelson: In Contention or Out?

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:  Phil Mickelson signs autographs for fans during a practice round prior to the start of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 14, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    I normally don't like to place such importance on a single round, but for Phil Mickelson, the first day is huge.

    Mickelson's track record is clearly noted. A slow start will not help a winning bid. So he cannot afford to lose ground. Anything past 75 in the first round for Phil effectively erases him. He can dig, but it's not going to happen.

    If there's one tournament that's come to get in Phil's head, it's the US Open.

Amateur or Pro?

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:  Amateur Peter Uihlein hits a chip shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 14, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Can an amateur contend with the pros? Possibly, but the first day will show which amateurs have the guts to keep themselves together.

    Peter Uihlein appears to be the big name to come up for the United States. However, the college ranks have proven little, if anything, as a showing of who will be the next big player.

    So can an amateur make the cut? Eh, 10 percent chance.

How Much Time Will Be Devoted to Tiger Woods' Absence?

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10:  Tiger Woods reacts to a missed eagle putt on the 15th hole during the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    I have defeated my own point, mentioning Tiger. I truly hope nobody worries about him, talks about him or mentions his name in passing. This is the US Open, appreciate a field that presents so much opportunity.

    Unfortunately, not all of the media sees it that way. Everyone will hear his name. He's a three-time champion of the tournament, and a great of the game. That's the reality. But here's a hope that we hear very little of it.

Day 1 Antics?

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    IRVING, TX - MAY 26: Rory Sabbatini watches a tee shot during the first round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship at TPC at Las Colinas on May 26, 2011 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
    Darren Carroll/Getty Images

    As with any major event, there always seems to be some kind of spat. A lot of times, the media can get in the way of an angry golfer the way a ball on a tee does. And like a golf ball, the media person gets bashed.

    Sometimes it's a fan who makes a mistake, distracts or makes a wise comment ("Hit the ball, Sergio").

    However, it could be a player, like the devil of the tour, Rory Sabbatini. Or a few other names on the list.

    Hopefully, it's funny, and not hurtful or dangerous.

Can the United States Reclaim a Major?

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:  Dustin Johnson hits a shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 14, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The last four major trophies are sitting overseas. Two of them in South Africa, two in Europe. That's unacceptable for the United States golfers, who until this point (for the most part) have owned their country's tournament.

    As of late, it's been the world who have won. It's high time an American stepped up, put the country on his shoulders and took it to the finish.

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