One of the most storied tournaments in the world…
Imagine yourself standing on a small grass box overlooking a narrow grass field and in the background lies the Pacific Ocean. In your hand is a long titanium stick and at your feet is a small white ball. What is your goal? To hit the ball with the stick (straight I might add) and to hit it over 400 yards to a 4.25 inch diameter hole in the least number of hits possible. You are wearing trousers and a polo shirt, maybe a hat, and maybe a metal bracelet that supposedly brings you balance (does it really?). And to make matters worse, it could be 90 degrees outside. After enduring 4 days of this torture, you turn in (and sign) a small card with a bunch of numbers on it. In what man’s mind would an activity like this ever be sane or creative? Now lets also imagine that in this same crazy activity, a $7 million purse is waiting for the participants, the winner taking over $1.25 million. Now thats what I’m talkin’ about!
As the U.S. Open begins today at the treasured Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, CA, we will see a field of 156 golfers, all of whom (to a degree) hit the stick and ball very very well. The U.S. Open has been notorious for fast greens, thich rough, and blown chances. Both Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie needed a par to win or a bogie to tie on the last hole in 2006. They both failed, and Geoff Ogilvy won the Open as the first Australian to win since 1995 (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie…OY OY OY!!)
As the U.S. Open has been around for 113 years there has been a diverse history of victors. Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open 4 times, all 4 times as an amateur. Then came Ben Hogan, who won the Open 4 times. The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus has also won the tournament 4 times. And along came the Tiger, who has won the US Open twice, both on public courses. Tiger has traditionally fared quite well on Torrey Pines – he has won 6 tournaments there as a professional, and he won the Junior World Championships when he was a wee laddy. And there there is Lefty… Phil Mickelson grew up in San Diego, and has dreamed for the U.S. Open to be at Torrey Pines. Mickelson’s first challenge will be one of the partners he is matched with on Thursday and Friday – Tiger Woods. Tiger has always done better under pressure against Mickelson. The advantage for Mickelson could be that Tiger is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery after the Masters this spring. But the disadvantage for Mickelson could be down the stretch.
As the press pays constant attention to Tiger and Lefty (as I have right now), I’d like to rank my top 5 potential winners at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines:
1) Sergio Garcia
Sergio has never won a Major tournament. I saw him compete with Tiger at Medinah Country Club in Illinois, and he gave Tiger a major run for his money. Fresh off his win at the Players Championship, expect Sergio to play hard.
2) Stewart Cink
3) Colin Montgomerie
Colin has had 5 top ten finishes in the US Open, but has always been bothered by the US fans. Last year he was cut from 3 of the 4 Major championships. He has always had the talent, but couldn’t seem to overcome the pressure around him. Will Montgomerie prove himself this year at Torrey Pines? He has never won a Major championship.
Vijay has won 3 Major championships, and has placed in the top 10 at the U.S. Open 7 different times. You won’t see him on the front pages of newspapers, but this guy can play.
Pat has claimed to have played Torrey Pines Golf Course over 1,000 times. Need I say more?