Thursday, June 18, 2009
U.S. Open Preview
The day of reckoning is upon us. The U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park begins today. Now, I'm sure that we have all dominated this course in Tiger Woods Golf before, but using Tiger Vision and giving the ball copious amounts of spin are not an option in reality. This course is TOUGH. The USGA has been dumping money into this course to make it tougher than it was last time, and to preserve its championship status. In my opinion, this course is going to reward those players who are able to scramble. Guys who are able to save par when it looks like a bogey is imminent. Guys who can do a great job of damage control out there will be at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.
In the late 80s and early 90s the Philadelphia Eagles were lead by a quarterback with a legendary ability to scramble. He even had a candy bar with his likeness on it called "The Scrambler" bar. Needless to say it did not do well. If Randall Cunningham were playing at Bethpage this weekend though, he would dominate. I really foresee those who can scramble doing well at the U.S. Open this week.
Yes, the PGA does keep stats on scrambling. The formula is # of greens missed divided by the number of those holes where the player still managed to score par or better. This year Steve Stricker is leading with a scramble percentage of 70%. Ian Poulter is in 2nd, Tiger Woods in 5th and Jim Furyk tied for 6th. Needless to say, these are some of the guys that I like to contend this weekend. The ability to save par, and maybe steal a few birdies on this long and difficult course will be crucial. Even though he is not first in scrambling, Tiger Woods is still the obvious favorite to win.
Tiger has been playing very well lately, winning his last tournament, and of course won the US Open at Bethpage in 2002. With his power and his ability to control the course, I do not see anyone beating him. As far as a few other guys go, here is who I like:
Ian Poulter- Naturally. He is second in scrambling so I gotta like his chances here. I also hear he is playing with fellow limeys Luke Donald and Paul Casey in the first round. This should help him, as James St. John Smith aka James Bond in "A View to A Kill" would say, "immensely, immensely". That reference might have been too confusing for most. I like Poulter is all. Don't sleep on Luke Donald either.
Steve Stricker- King of the scramblers. Stricker has played well in the U.S. Open in the past and has a win this year at the Colonial in Texas.
Jim Furyk- The most boring golfer in the world should be a contender this weekend. He hits it straight with his stupid hitch, and is a pretty good putter. Those two things bode well for this horse's ass.
Paddy Harrington- Harrington played well (relatively speaking, he finished +6) at Bethpage in 2002, and is still looking to prove that his major wins were no fluke while Tiger was injured. There always seem to be some cagey Europeans at the top of the leaderboard every time too.
Fat Phil- I hate to bash on Phil because his wife has breast cancer, but I still have to. He still wears those too tight t's even though he is not buff. I will not be rooting for him this weekend, even though his wife's condition has made him a fan favorite. Phil is just not committed enough to golf to be a great. At a time like this for him and his family though, that is more than ok.
Sleepers: J.B Holmes, Boo Weekley, Shingo Katayama, Ben Roethlisberger