Notes from the North

While the Tiger, Lefty, Bubba threesome seems to be getting all the attention at the US Open, my pick to win the prestigious tournament comes from the shadows.

Even though he's the defending champ and former world number one, Rory McIroy isn't getting much attention, or respect, as the Major gets underway today. Yes, I know the Irishman has had an up-and-down year so far but right now he's very much "up", getting his game back in gear and his head back on his shoulders.

I'm picking McIlroy to repeat as U.S. Open Champion as much because he's getting his mojo back as because the grouping of the big American three has taken all the pressure off him. He can go about his business in relative obscurity (and relaxation) while Woods, Mickelson and Watson (isn't it amazing how the same three guys who sound like a bad bowling team when you use their nicknames actually sound like a trio of top golfers when you substitute their surnames?) deal with big crowds, packs of media and the overwhelming clicking of cell-phone cameras over the first two rounds of the tournament.

Picking one player to win a major golf tournament is, in itself, a ridiculous endeavour. By my count, 156 golfers will start the first round, each with at least a small chance of winning. Sure, there might be a short list of maybe 30 guys who stand a realistic chance of winning, based on skill, experience and recent performance, but picking one out of 30 is a pratically impossible task.

But let's be silly for a minute. Who do you think will win?

I'm picking Rory.

I think Phil's too mentally fragile right now. I think Tiger is still fighting his swing a bit. And I think Bubba, well, Bubba might just be a one-hit wonder.

Sure, Westwood could win it. Or Ousthuizen. Or Fowler. Or Donald. Or any one else in the top, say, 30 in the current rankings. Maybe even anyone in the top 40. I mean, Ernie Ehls has been playing pretty well of late and he's currently ranked number 43. Rory Sabbatini is at 66 and he was in the running two weeks ago.

Okay, so it could be anybody. But I'm thinking it's going to be McIlroy.

But wouldn't it be nice if it were Ben Casey? or Vijay?

Other bold predictions I'll make:

Mickelson will barely make the cut and will never be a factor.

Bubba will end up in the top 20, maybe.

Tiger will be in contention until mid-round Sunday.

Ehls and Singh will surprise, first by making the cut and then by hanging around the top of the leaderboard into Sunday.

First: McIlory. Second: Westwood. Third: Furyk. Fourth: Woods. Fifth: that 14 year old.


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