2011 U.S. Open Preview & Fantasy Picks
The 111th U.S. Open Championship takes place this week at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. After receiving over 8,000 applications, the field has been selected and 156 of the best golfers in the world will attempt to become the next U.S. Open champion.
Players from 22 countries will hope to earn the title "U.S. Open Champion" come Sunday afternoon. Graeme McDowell became the first player from Northern Ireland to win when he captured the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. If McDowell can win again this year he will be the first player to win the U.S. Open back to back since Curtis Strange accomplished the double in 1988 and 1989.
Phil Mickelson has won the most majors of anyone in the field (4) but has yet to win the U.S. Open. Could this be the year for Phil? If so, he's going to have to compete with 19 other Major Championship winners and 8 previous U.S. Open winners. Including Mickelson, five players in this years Open have won multiple majors: Angel Cabrera (2), Retief Goosen (2), Padraig Harrington (3) and Ernie Els (3). Goosen and Els are the only players in the field with multiple U.S. Open wins, they both have two.
Three Groups to Watch at The U.S. Open
3. Steve Stricker, David Toms & Retief Goosen: It's time for Steve Stricker to win a major and I think he is going to do it this week. He's now the top ranked American and is fresh off a win two weeks ago at the Memorial Tournament. No one will be surprised if he wins here. David Toms has had a great seasons. A win on the PGA TOUR after a five year drought and second place at The PLAYERS has everyone talking about him. He has one major under his belt from ten years ago, the 20o1 PGA Championship. Retief Goosen is one of two players in the field with multiple U.S. Open victories. He won in 2001 and 2004. It hasn't been a great season for Goosen but he knows how to play at the U.S. Open.
2. Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson & Phil Mickelson: Dustin Johnson has been playing some good golf lately but now it needs to translate into a win. He's made the cut in 10 of 13 starts this year with four top 10's. Two weeks ago he finished in 4th place at the Memorial Tournament and has a second and third place finish this season. Rory McIlroy likes to jump out of the gate to early leads but has had trouble closing this season. We saw him unravel at The Masters after holding the lead heading into Sunday. If he gets the lead again, will he be able to fight off the memories of a Sunday at Augusta? Make no mistake about it, all eyes will be on Phil Mickelson this weekend. The four time winner major is yet to win the U.S. Open and time is running out for him. He just missed in 2006 at Winged Foot and if he wants people to stop talking about it, he'll need to win here.
1. Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, & Lee Westwood: Personally I prefer to watch the group above but when the top three players in the world are paired together at the U.S. Open, you better list them as your top group. Luke Donald and Lee Westwood will look to win the first majors of their careers. A win by either one of them would silence the critics about them being at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings without a major. Luke Donald has made the cut in 8 of 9 events this season. In all eight he has finished in the top 10 and has a win at the Accenture Match Play Championship too. He's playing some remarkable golf and deserves the top spot but can he win a major? Martin Kaymer finished 8th at the U.S. Open last year and went on to win the 2010 PGA Championship shortly after. He was ranked number one in the world earlier this season and win this week could make his case stronger for the best player in the world honor. Lee Westwood finished in 3rd place at the 2008 U.S. Open and is still in search of his first major. Now ranked #2 in the world, he will be eager to take the top spot from fellow Englishman Luke Donald.
U.S. Open Fantasy Picks
Starters: Luke Donald (A), Steve Stricker (B), Bubba Watson (B), Martin Kaymer (C)
Bench: Phil Mickelson (A), David Toms (B), Angel Cabrera (B), Adam Scott (C)