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U.S. Open capsules

U.S. Open capsules

A capsule look at 20 top players in the U.S. Open, to be played June 14-17 at Oakmont Country Club. Listed in predicted order of finish:
ADAM SCOTT
Age: 26.
Country: Australia
World ranking: 4.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 12.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 21-28-MC-MC-MC
U.S. Open moment: Driving back to Winged Foot to celebrate a U.S. Open title for fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy.
Backspin: He's been on the slow, steady track to the top for the last four years in an era of instant gratification. Felt the Sunday nerves in a major for the first time at Medinah last year in the PGA Championship, but had another disappointing Masters, a week after winning in Houston. His putting has to be sharp at Oakmont, especially on the 6-footers for par.
GEOFF OGILVY
Age: 30
Country: Australia
World ranking: 8.
Majors: U.S. Open (2006).
Worldwide victories: 3.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 1-28-DNP-MC-DNP
U.S. Open moment: A perfectly executed pitch up the slope to 6 feet and making the par putt, figuring it would be for second place.
Backspin: Curtis Strange was the last player to win back-to-back in the U.S. Open, and Ogilvy is as good a candidate as any to be the next. He hasn't won since Winged Foot, but lost in the final of the Accenture Match Play and was third at the World Golf Championship at Doral. His long game needs to be consistent, but his confidence and nerves should carry him. This time, he could be the main story.
TIGER WOODS
Age: 31.
Country: United States.
World ranking: 1.
Majors: Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005), U.S. Open (2000, 2002), British Open (2000, 2005, 2006), PGA Championship (1999, 2000, 2006).
Worldwide victories: 67.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: MC-2-17-20-1.
U.S. Open moment: Winning by 15 shots at Pebble Beach, a record margin in majors.
Backspin: Recent memories of the U.S. Open are watching the final round from his boat. Memories of Oakmont are nil, except for his practice rounds. This will be more about position than power, and Woods probably won't have to hit driver more than about six times. He should have an advantage on the two par 5s, and might be one of the few who can get home _ or get close _ on the 677-yard 12th. Needs this major to make it a triple Grand Slam.
VIJAY SINGH
Age: 44.
Country: Fiji.
World ranking: 6.
Majors: Masters (2000), PGA Championship (1998, 2004).
Worldwide victories: 53.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 6-6-28-20-30.
U.S. Open moment: Tying a major championship record with a 63 in the second round at Olympia Fields.
Backspin: A player whose success usually is determined by the putter now must rely on his driving to be in contention. He already has won twice this year, but he hasn't done much in between those victories at Kapalua and Bay Hill. Has played Oakmont frequently. At age 44, he's starting to feel some of the aches, but a good week in the short grass _ and good lag putting _ could help make him feel a lot better.
PHIL MICKELSON
Age: 36.
Country: United States.
World ranking: 2.
Majors: Masters (2004, 2006), PGA Championship (2005).
Worldwide victories: 31.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2-33-2-55-2.
U.S. Open moment: His infamous quote _ "I am such an idiot" _ after a double bogey to lose the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
Backspin: A wrist injury during practice at Oakmont suddenly makes him a question mark. Already has tied the U.S. Open record with four runner-up finishes, all of them coming in the last eight years. Picked up enormous momentum with victory at The Players Championship, in his third week working with Butch Harmon. Has been haunted by short putts at the U.S. Open, and given the slick greens of Oakmont, that could be make-or-break for him.
RETIEF GOOSEN
Age: 38.
Country: South Africa
World ranking: 11.
Majors: U.S. Open (2001, 2004).
Worldwide victories: 28.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: MC-11-1-42-MC
U.S. Open moment: A three-putt bogey from 12 feet at Southern Hills, only to win the next day in a playoff.
Backspin: He was poised to win the Masters until the birdies dried up along the final six holes, including the two par 5s. He's shown he has the mettle for a U.S Open title _ two of them _ but his play has been more sporadic than usual this year, especially missing the cut at the Wales Open last week. Won at Shinnecock with a slew of par putts, and that could carry him at Oakmont.
ZACH JOHNSON
Age: 31.
Country: United States.
World ranking: 14.
Majors: Masters (2007).
Worldwide victories: 3.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: MC-MC-48-DNP-DNP.
U.S. Open moment: An even-par 70 in his first U.S. Open round, then playing the next seven rounds in 37 over par.
Backspin: Winning the Masters was no accident, and he proved at Sugarloaf he is playing well. Expect that to continue the rest of the year, certainly through the summer. Oakmont might work in his favor if the fairways are firm and he keeps it between the hay. His biggest challenge, besides the linoleum-like greens, will be handling the perception and expectations as a major champion.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON
Age: 36.
Country: Ireland.
World ranking: 10.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 14.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 5-MC-31-10-8.
U.S. Open moment: Playing in the final group with Tiger Woods in the third round at Bethpage Black.
Backspin: Won the Irish Open last month and has played the U.S. Open better than the other three majors. He took a three-week break after the Masters, during which he had early stages of skin cancer removed from his head. The break did him well, and he might have helped himself again by not rushing back from London to play in the Memorial.
LUKE DONALD
Age: 30.
Country: England.
World ranking: 9.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 4.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 12-57-DNP-DNP-18.
U.S. Open moment: Recovering from a 78 in the first round at Winged Foot to make the cut, the finishing in the top 15.
Backspin: One of several players capable of ending Europe's eight-year drought in the majors and 37-year drought in the U.S. Open. Gave himself chances at the Sony Open and The Players Championship, but still struggles to finish at times. He played in the final group with Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship last year, and probably won't wear a red shirt if he gets that chance again.
TREVOR IMMELMAN
Age: 27.
Country: South Africa.
World ranking: 15.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 5.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 21-DNP-55-MC-DNP
U.S. Open moment: Three shots out of the lead at Shinnecock Hills until a 79-82 weekend.
Backspin: South Africans have won four U.S. Opens since 1994, and if another one is to claim the title, this might be the best bet. Had a strong rookie season on the PGA Tour last year by winning in Chicago and finishing at No. 7 on the money list. A parasite essentially knocked him out of the Masters, and he lost some 20 pounds in the weeks that followed. Starting to regain his strength just in time.
ERNIE ELS
Age: 37.
Country: South Africa.
World ranking: 5.
Majors: U.S. Open (1994, 1997), British Open (2002).
Worldwide victories: 58.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 26-15-9-5-24
U.S. Open moment: Starting bogey-triple bogey in the playoff at Oakmont, then playing 1 under the rest of the way to win.
Backspin: A star was born 13 years ago at Oakmont when Els won the first of his three majors. This might be his best chance at a major this year, given his history, although it's hard to tell which Els will show up. He got back in the major game last summer at Hoylake and finished third, but he is without a PGA Tour victory since 2004 and it's starting to wear on him. If nothing else, he needs a good start to keep from getting down on himself.
JIM FURYK
Age: 37.
Country: United States.
World ranking: 3.
Majors: U.S. Open (2003).
Worldwide victories: 15.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 2-28-48-1-MC
U.S. Open moment: Tied U.S. Open scoring record despite bogeys on his last two holes.
Backspin: Even though he rose to No. 2 in the world for the first half of the season, he has gone nearly 10 months without a victory. This will be close to a home game for Furyk, who grew up in western Pennsylvania and made his U.S. Open debut in 1994 at Oakmont. He also had a good chance at Winged Foot until failing to save par from a bunker on the last hole. Length shouldn't be a big issue this year.
HENRIK STENSON
Age: 31.
Country: Sweden.
World ranking: 7.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 9.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 26-DNP-DNP-DNP-DNP
U.S. Open moment: Played his first practice round at a U.S. Open with only a putter and a wedge.
Backspin: After surviving a severe slump early in his career, he has emerged this year as Europe's highest-ranked player. Won in Dubai by holding off Tiger Woods in the final round, then won the Accenture Match Play over Geoff Ogilvy with a combination of power and resiliency. Hits it hard with a draw, but hasn't shown a lot of variety in his game, and that could limit him in the U.S. Open.
LUCAS GLOVER
Age: 27.
Country: United States.
World ranking: 55.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 1.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: MC-DNP-DNP-DNP-MC
U.S. Open moment: Avoided qualifying for Winged Foot by finishing 30th on the 2005 money list by $13,092 over Geoff Ogilvy, the winner at Winged Foot.
Backspin: In a year when the younger Americans are starting to show their worth, a major would go a long way toward establishing Glover as the player everyone thinks he should be. His only victory remains Disney, when he holed a bunker shot on the 18th. He has the tools _ length, fearless attitude _ but has to be a little more patient and to stop getting in his way.
SERGIO GARCIA
Age: 27.
Country: Spain.
World ranking: 12.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 16.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: MC-3-20-35-4
U.S. Open moment: Saluting the New York fans at Bethpage with one finger when they heckled him over his waggles.
Backspin: His year already was off to a shaky start. After being caught on television spitting into a cup after missing a short putt, he virtually disappeared until his backdoor runner-up finish at The Players Championship. The U.S. Open has been his best major since he turned pro in 1999, but he might need a perfect week of putting to give himself a legitimate chance.
DAVID TOMS
Age: 40.
Country: United States.
World ranking: 25.
Majors: PGA Championship (2001).
Worldwide victories: 12.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: WD-15-20-5-45
U.S. Open moment: Did not break par at the U.S. Open until his 19th round in his seventh appearance.
Backspin: He has been very quiet since winning the Sony Open last year and finishing second to Tiger Woods at Doral. Only finished one major last year, withdrawing from the U.S. Open and British Open with back injury. He's been steady, but certainly not spectacular the first half of the season. He still gets high marks for his smooth putting, which could go a long way at Oakmont.
SCOTT VERPLANK
Age: 42.
Country: United States.
World ranking: 33.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 6.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: MC-MC-40-10-MC
U.S. Open moment: Twice shot 69 at Oakland Hills in 1985 as an amateur.
Backspin: Ended a six-year victory drought at the Byron Nelson Championship and had a chance at the Colonial until faltering in the final round. This should be his best shot at a major given his accuracy off the tee and reputation as a good putter, although he has gone home on the weekend three of the last five years. Tied for 18th last time the U.S. Open was held at Oakmont.
PAUL CASEY
Age: 29.
Country: England.
World ranking: 16.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 8.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 15-WD-MC-MC-DNP
U.S. Open moment: Withdrew after the first round at Pinehurst No. 2 with an 85.
Backspin: One of the few players who managed to break par in the final round at Winged Foot last year, so it can be done. Finished second on the Order of Merit in Europe last year on the strength of two big victories, and started the 2007 season by winning Abu Dhabi before blowing a weekend lead at Bay Hill. He's a very exciting player when he's firing at the flags, reminiscent of Johnny Miller.
STEVE STRICKER
Age: 40
Country: United States
World ranking: 21.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 5.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 6-DNP-MC-DNP-16
U.S. Open moment: Holed a bunker shot to take the 36-hole lead at Winged Foot.
Backspin: After winning PGA Tour comeback player of the year, has continued to play well and is missing only a victory. The U.S. Open would figure to be his least likely opportunity in the majors given his erratic play off the tee. But he got back into the top 50 by hitting the ball well, and his putting is as good as anyone in golf. Gained loads of confidence last year at Winged Foot.
CHARLES HOWELL III
Age: 27.
Country: United States.
World ranking: 20.
Majors: None.
Worldwide victories: 2.
Last 5 U.S. Opens: 37-75-36-53-18
U.S. Open moment: Had a 15-shot differential between his third round (68) and fourth round (83) at Shinnecock Hills.
Backspin: Not many played as well as Howell in the first three months of the season, with his victory at Riviera and two runner-up finishes. But he has disappeared after the Masters, missing the cut in Dallas, finishing last at The Players Championship and shooting 80 in the third round at Memorial. He fixed his driving, and now needs to shore up his putting. If he gets it figured out, he hits the ball cleanly enough that he should give himself a chance.


Updated : 2021-10-18 16:47 GMT+08:00