Editor’s note: Jason Johnson nailed Geoff Ogilvy as an 80-1 choice to win last year's U.S. Open and this year's golf selections can be purchased at VegasInsider.com. Also, be sure to follow JJ's analysis of the U.S. Open in his VI Blog.
The U.S. Open heads to Oakmont this week for the eighth time in its history and players are already having fits over the fast greens and high rough. It was reported that for Monday’s practice rounds the stimpmeter read 14.6 on the greens and Rory Sabbatini even went as far as to call Oakmont “Shinnecock on steroids.”
While the course may be tough, the USGA seems to have succeeded again in making the US. Open the “fairest test in golf.” The six inch deep primary rough puts a premium on hitting fairways and while the Par-70 course is long at 7,230 yards, Tiger Woods only pulled his driver on four of 14 holes in his practice round Sunday. Accuracy will again reign supreme.
Much like last year at Winged Foot, Oakmont Country Club is likely to be the superstar garnering all the attention from the media. The removal of 5,000 trees, the longest par-5 in major championship history (the 667-yard 12th hole), and a 288-yard par-3 will no doubt make headlines in the golf community.
As for some of the star players, Phil Mickelson is hurting and hasn’t played an actual round in over a week. He’s spent plenty of time around the greens and walking the course but that wrist doesn’t want to be anywhere close to the rough at Oakmont. If he can play, Mickelson will try to redeem himself after last year’s episode at Winged Foot.
Adam Scott comes into the Open after a colossal collapse at last weeks St. Jude Classic in Memphis. Scott had a three stroke lead heading into Sunday before falling apart and finishing five over on the day. His confidence must be shaken.
Rory Sabbatini has let his mouth run wild the past few weeks after some negative comments about Tiger Woods’ game at the TPC Sawgrass. While Sabbatini says that it’s all in the spirit of competition, he has signed up for a practice round on Wednesday with none other than Tiger himself. This could make for quite the media circus.
Vijay Singh has two PGA Tour wins under his belt but hasn’t finished higher than sixth in the past five U.S. Opens. His putting could keep him in contention this week.
Zach Johnson won this years first major in Augusta and followed that up with a win at TPC Sugarloaf. While Johnson is certainly playing solid golf, he hasn’t seen a U.S. Open setup since a 48th place finish in 2004. His lack of experience on the toughest courses could hinder his game this week.
Ernie Els took home the trophy from Oakmont in 1994 but hasn’t seen a win on the PGA Tour since 2004. If Els can draw some confidence from his return visit here, don’t be surprised to see him in the final pairing come Sunday.
There are plenty of players who have a chance at an Open title; 156 to be exact. That’s what’s left of the 8,000 plus amateurs and professionals who were involved in the qualifying tournaments held around the country and overseas this year. What makes the U.S. Open the best event in golf is that anyone who can hold a golf club can compete but only one gets to take home the trophy.