Starting Thursday, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines will pit the all of the best golfers from around the world in one of the sport's toughest tournaments. And as in all Majors, there are many different players with a good shot at the title. Here is my breakdown of all the favorites.
As always, Tiger Woods is a major topic of conversation. Now, Tiger will be coming off of knee surgery, which has caused him to miss every tournament since the last major, the Masters, where he finished second. Now, for 99.9% of the golfers on the planet, this type of knee problem would leave them with no chance to win the U.S. Open. But Tiger Woods is not 99.9% of golfers. Tiger could win a tournament with plastic golf clubs and one hand tied behind his back. But word on the tour is that Tiger is not as far along with his knee recovery as once thought. Is has been rumored that he can't put all the weight he wants to on his knee. That can't be good. He also has barely played for 2 months, so don't expect him to be at the top of his game. But I just can't see Tiger going away, and he usually dominates U.S. Opens. So what's the call? I give Tiger about 5-1 odds, which are insanely good considering what he's been through. But with the way the last couple of majors have gone, I'm just not sold on Eldrick.
But if your really looking for a favorite in this weeks Open, look farther than Phil Mickelson. He just won the Colonial, his putting has been great lately, and he is playing on what is essentially his home course. He grew up in the San Diego area, and still resides there. Expect a very pro-Lefty crowd. He also is very due for another major. His last Major win was more than 2 years ago, in the 2006 Masters. He hasn't taken the U.S. Open yet, either, and he is really hungering for one. Plus, besides Tiger, he may be the hottest golfer in the world right now. He played very good at Augusta, and won the Northern Trust Open back in February. He is also an inch taller (seriously, he claims that) than he was before. What's not to like? But I just can't get U.S. Open collapse out of my head. Phil isn't always the best down the stretch. But I still have him at 4-1 odds, making him the favorite at Torrey Pines.
Believe it or not, there are players other than Phil and Tiger playing this weekend. Adam Scott, Tiger and Lefty's playing partner in the first two rounds, is the #3 golfer in the world, and is really due for a major, of which he has won none of. But he has been hot, and you have to consider him a factor. Maybe playing with the two best players in the world will inspre him to play good. I'm puting him at 15-1 odds.
I'm going to put out one more favorite: Sergio Garcia. He showed a lot of poise when he won the TPC at Sawgrass. He has been looking better with the putter, and his confidence has been improving. And I just think its his time to pounce. Tiger will not be as scary as usual, he doesn't have to play with any of the other favorites, and I think he could step up. I just have a good feeling about him. I have him at 12-1 odds, being my third favorite.
Other names to throw out there, could win possible take the tourney:
-Geoff Ogilvy: hits it long, and that's what it will take this weekend.
-Andres Romero: I just like him.
-Stewart Cink: has been off the radar for a while.
Players that have no chance to win the Open, even if you think they could:
-Vijay Singh: has an injured rib. He would have needed all the help he could get.
-Jim Furyk: too short of a hitter for long Torrey Pines.
-Luke Donald: same as Furyk.
-Zach Johnson: same as Furyk.
-Trevor Immelman: been slumping since the Masters win.
-Angel Cabrera: defending champ has had a very tough year.
And what about the course? Well, for all you people who don't read into every little detail of every big course, heres what I can peace together from my sources. It is REALLY, REALLY long. Sports Illustrated called it "the longest freaking course around". The par 5's aren't bad, but it has monster par-4s, like the 515 yard 6th, and the 504-yard 12th. It also has strong winds, but not that bad. Suposedly, the rough is ridiculous out there right now, but the USGA says it will be "managable", so we'll see. But it is absolutely stunning for a public course, and it will make for a beautiful backdrop. Overall, if you want one for the course, it is this: long.
So what can we expect from this week's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines? Expect a lot of talk of Tiger, some great golf in the Phil-Tiger-Scott group, and some very slow play. And expect Geoff Ogilvy to come out of the blue and take the tournament by one stroke over Phil Mickelson.