Destiny's dozen at the US Open - Haves and Have Nots
Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30
Our picks from the major winners and major hopefuls going into the first round at Pinehurst No.2.
Rory McIlroy (11/1) 'Golf Channel' put a tracker on McIlroy's ball on the range and, shot after shot, it was like watching guided missiles home in on a target. He's striping it! That Wentworth win and increased resilience this year make him a worthy favourite, especially if it rains.
Justin Rose (28/1) Rose bloomed in victory at Merion last year and with that confidence allied to a perfect temperament for the US Open, he will forever be a threat in this arena. Views his missed cut at Memorial as a "blessing in disguise," since he got in a good recce here that weekend.
Webb Simpson (45/1) Third place last weekend in Memphis suggests the 2012 US Open winner is back in the mood. Has won just once since Olympic, but Simpson consistently ranks among the best scramblers and putters on the PGA Tour. That'll be especially useful at Pinehurst.
Graeme McDowell (55/1) Few are better equipped for the withering mental challenge of the US Open, as he proved in 2010. This week's winner must shrug off bad breaks when hitting into turtle-shell greens and scramble and putt like a demon. G-Mac is in the top 12 in scrambling and second in putting on the US Tour in 2013!
THE HAVE NOTS
Adam Scott (14/1) World No 1 Adam Scott's record at the US Open is threadbare at best. Yet his Masters breakthrough last year and six other top-10s at Majors since taking up the long putter suggest he'll be a man for all arenas and seasons – at least until anchoring is banned in January '16!
Phil Mickelson (16/1) How ironic that the first time he plays the US Open on a course which forgives his flamboyant nature and favours his ingenious short game, Lefty has lost touch, feel and form around the green. If God's a golfer, they'll return in time for Mickelson (44) on Monday, to complete his career Grand Slam.
Jordan Spieth (25/1) This guy won the John Deere Classic last July 14, but, after a mature and composed runner-up finish on his Masters debut, followed by an impressive fourth at Sawgrass, this 20-year-old may now be ready to storm golf's Bastille. He has the game and the temperament.
Matt Kuchar (25/1) One vignette from a fascinating season showed Kuchar has the right stuff to prevail at the US Open. His bounce-back from a horrible three-putt on the penultimate hole at Hilton Head to hole a bunker shot at the last for victory No 7 on the PGA Tour reeked of courage and class.
THE LONG SHOTS
Hideki Matsuyama (40/1)|Just 22, Matsuyama impressively shared 10th on his US Open bow at Merion after a splendid closing 67. His form is hot, evidenced by his maiden PGA Tour victory in sudden death at Memorial a fortnight back. Japan’s ‘Bashful Priince, Ryo Ishikawa has been overthrown!
Ian Poulter (66/1)|Asked which was more likely, an English win at the World Cup or Pinehurst, Justin Rose opted for the latter, pointing to the number of US Open contenders. After sealing his first top-10 in the US this season with Sunday’s spectacular 64 in Memphis, Poulter’s again strutting like a peacock.
Jonas Blixt (80/1)|This Swede (30) performs well at the Majors, as he proved with April’s stunning share of second with Spieth on his Masters debut. Blixt’s form hasn’t been great since, but the phenomenal short game which helped him win twice in two years in the US will stand to him here.
Victor Dubuisson (80/1)|The Seve-like flair he showed around the greens in sudden death against Jason Day before losing the Accenture Match Play final should stand to Dubuisson (24) here. A shoulder injury beggared him in April and May, but he came back for an impressive second place at The Nordea.