2011 US Open (Golf)

2011 US Open Odds: 10 Sleeper Candidates to Take Home the Title

John BurkeContributor IJune 16, 2011

2011 US Open Odds: 10 Sleeper Candidates to Take Home the Title

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    IRVING, TX - MAY 28: Jeff Overton follows through on a tee shot during the third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons at Las Colinas on May 28, 2011 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
    Darren Carroll/Getty Images

    Phil Mickelson.

    Luke Donald.

    Lee Westwood.

    Steve Stricker.

    Everyone has heard those names tossed around as U.S. Open favorites.

    But being a favorite does not guarantee a victory. In the U.S. Open field, all of the players have the talent to win it all.

    They just need to get hot for four days. They need to peak at the right time. They need to ignore the pressure and big stage, and play their game.

    Here are 10 guys who could just sneak in and  hoist the trophy on Sunday. 

Jeff Overton

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:  Jeff Overton celebrates a hole-in-one on the 13th hole 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

    Jeff Overton may be better known for his on course personality than his game.

    One of the more emotional players on tour, Overton has notched four 2nd place finishes but no victories. 

    While this is Overton's first U.S. Open appearance, he can handle the bright lights of the big stage. Last year at the Ryder Cup, Overton's fantastic play helped keep the U.S. team relevant. 

    He also notched a T9 at Congressional back in 2008 during the AT&T National. 

Retief Goosen

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    MEMPHIS, TN - JUNE 12:  Retief Goosen of South Africa plays a shot during the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind on June 12, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Retief Goosen has been struggling with his game until recently. 

    Last week, Goosen finished T3 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, showing he has found his early 2000's form. 

    And if there is one thing we know about Goosen, it is that he knows how to perform in the U.S. Open. 

    He has won the Open in 2001 and 2004. Remember the 2004 victory was at Shinnecock Hills, where the USGA was watering the greens in between the last few groups to save them. 

    While Goosen has been off the map for the past couple of years, it would be very foolish to count him out this time. 

Kevin Streelman

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    DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 02:  Kevin Streelman 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/Get
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    To win a major, a player must peak at the right time. 

    And if there is anyone on tour who is peaking right now, it is Kevin Streelman. 

    His last three starts have seen him finish T19, T10, and T7, respectively. If three consecutive top-20 finishes don't show a player peaking, nothing does. 

    It is very possible Streelman could find himself with a late tee time on Sunday. 

Bo Van Pelt

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 15:  Bo Van Pelt watches a shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 15, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Sure, Bo Van Pelt may be the sleepiest of the sleepers. And yes, his best finish in a U.S. Open is T31 back in 2004. 

    But I don't care. He has notched five top-25 finishes on tour this year, a very solid total. 

    He has an ability to go low, with a scoring average almost half a stroke below most of the PGA Tour. 

    He also keeps the ball in the fairway, a must at the U.S. Open.

Mark Wilson

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:  Mark Wilson 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 Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Mark Wilson has already won twice on tour in 2011. If he is not the hottest thing on tour, he is the closest thing to it. 

    While, Wilson has never made a cut in the U.S. Open, he has never been playing this well. 2011 may be his year to finally break from the mold and show he has what it takes to compete in the majors. 

    The one thing that may stop him, however, is his driver. Wilson is not the longest hitter on tour and length is usually a factor at the U.S. Open.

David Toms

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    FORT WORTH, TX - MAY 22:  David Toms his a shot during the final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club on May 22, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    David Toms is having himself quite the nice resurgence in 2011. 

    Toms has always had world class talent, winning the 2001 PGA Championship.

    The last number of years have been a struggle for Toms. He no longer found golf fun, but continued to do so because golf was all he knew. Then he took his son golfing, and Toms rediscovered why he loved the sport.

    After a near miss at The Players Championship, Toms won his first PGA Tour tournament in five years at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. 

    Again, the biggest question with Toms is his length. If he is long enough, there is no doubt that he can compete this week at Congressional. 

Ernie Els

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    DUBLIN, OH - JUNE 03:  Ernie Els of South Africa hits his tee shot on the 14th 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 H
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Ernie Els has been struggling with his game recently. 

    The only reason he is included in this list is because of his history at Congressional.

    In case you forgot, let me refresh your memory. Els won the U.S. Open in 1997 on the same course. 

    Only back then it wasn't really the same course. The routing has been changed, distance has been added and the green complexes have been worked on. 

    But it is Congressional and he is the Big Easy. 

Matteo Manassero

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:  Matteo Manassero of Italy smiles 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 Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Matteo Manassero is only 18 years old.

    His young age should not hurt his stock as he has already won twice on the European Tour.

    This is his first U.S. Open, which may prove to hurt him from an experience stand point. Manassero has already shown he is not afraid of the public eye, so I am not worried about how he will face the pressure. 

    If Manassero brings his accurate driving ability across the pond with him, there is a possibility he could make noise on the weekend. 

Dustin Johnson

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 14:  Dustin Johnson signs his autograph 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 Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Dustin Johnson is better known for his failures in majors than his successes. 

    Last year at the U.S. Open, the world watched as Johnson fell apart on the final day, carding an 82. A year later, it seems as if Johnson has moved on from that debacle. 

    Johnson's length should come in handy at Congressional. Assuming he has no remaining demons from Pebble Beach, he should be a player to watch in 2011. 

Jason Day

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    Jason Day is one of the young guns on tour who is always improving. 

    This year, Day has finished in the top 10 on six different occasions, including a second-place tie in the Masters.

    With a high Masters finish, Day showed that he can handle the Sunday pressure of the majors. I would expect the 2011 U.S. Open to be no different. 

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