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2010 U.S. Open Staff Predictions

Jun. 16, 2010     By     Comments (5)

Will this year's champ be a big name like Tiger or Phil? Who's that one guy you'd never imagine on the first page? Can Pebble Beach's greens (and its ocean views) steal the show? Our writers weigh in.

Thrash TalkIt's been a long time since Tiger Woods entered anything where he's not the outright favorite to win. But with all his off-course trouble and a lack of recent success, the oddsmakers have installed Woods' chief rival, Phil Mickelson as co-favorite.

How will #1 and #2 fare this week as the U.S. Open returns to scenic Pebble Beach?

Winner and Score

Ron Varrial
At just a hair over 7,000 yards and a great weather forecast, this is a U.S. Open a short hitter can win. I was thinking an accurate driver and great putter like Brian Gay but he's never made an Open cut. Then started thinking Adam Scott, who's second on Tour in greens in regulation, but can't put my money on a guy 180th in putting - too many important up and downs this week. Finally, I circled back to Tiger Woods. The driver's been his Achilles and he can rely on the "Stinger" more off the tee. Give me Tiger to quiet the critics at 279 (-5).

Danny Ottmann
Lee Westwood at 281 (-3). The Englishman is playing well and quite frankly is way overdue for his first major. He has been close I think he does it this time around.

Donald Mackenzie
Zach Johnson at 278 (-6). The former Masters champ is having a quietly brilliant year, and his fairways-and-greens game is perfect for an Open. As well as he's been putting the ball, I like his chances a lot.

Alan Olson
The "new" USGA seems content to let the golfers go low (by their standards, anyway) and Pebble looks to be a potential birdie-fest. Phil comes through with a 274 (-10).

George Promenschenkel
Before last weekend, I would have written Lee Westwood here, but winning back to back PGA Tour events is a pretty rare occurrence. Winning a PGA Tour event and a major in consecutive weeks is an even tougher feat. So instead of Lee, I'm going with Phil Mickelson to make it two straight majors. Coincidentally, he's the last player to win back to back with a major as the second victory (Bellsouth and Masters in 2006). Winning score? 276 (-8).

Erik J. Barzeski
Pebble's not long and Tiger has good success there. Despite his troubles off the tee two things play in Tiger's favor - the short length will let Tiger hit a lot of 3Ws on many holes and the small greens will place even more emphasis on the short game and putting. This is an important year (as they all are) for Tiger's quest to get to 19. Plus, you know, the last time they played an Open here someone won by 15 shots…

That said, my close second choice is Phil. He too has the short game savvy and the good history at Pebble Beach, and I'd like nothing more than to see good golf from Phil. He wins, and he takes over #1 in the World, which should spur Tiger on even more. But Phil doesn't play well in U.S. Opens on the west coast - all of his runners up have been on the east coast.

Tiger by two at 278 (-6).

If You're the Oddsmaker, Who's the Favorite: Tiger or Phil?

Ron Varrial
Tough call. Phil's Mr. Runner-up at the U.S. Open. But Tiger Woods is the only one in this field to win on this course by 15 strokes. It pains me to say so, but Tiger's got the discipline to play smart and safe off the tee, and Phil is bound to hit a drive or two that end his hopes.

Danny Ottmann
Phil will beat Tiger again. There is entirely too much going on in Tiger's life for him to properly prepare for this tournament, much less to fix the swing flaw that has been giving him trouble all year.

Donald Mackenzie
I think Phil is a 2:1 favorite over Tiger this week. You can't count out a dramatic turnaround from either player - be it a collapse from Phil or four rounds of brilliance from Tiger out of the blue. But going into an Open with a life and swing as unsettled as Tiger's is near-impossible, and Phil has his game and confidence in great shape (and hopefully Amy is doing well enough to join him at PB).

Alan Olson
I have to give the nod to Phil. Tiger hasn't played much and while he'll finish in the top ten, I don't see him winning.

George Promenschenkel
Phil. He's coming off a Masters victory. He had a good showing at the Memorial against a good field. He'll have to keep his drives in the short grass, but his short game and length could carry the day. Tiger has the long-term record you'd normally go with, but lately his driver has been off-the-charts bad. While he managed to miss me with every shot he hit at Muirfield Village, three other people during the final round weren't so lucky. However, if Tiger has fixed his tee shots in the meantime, watch out! He was able to stay within shouting distance of the lead at the Memorial despite having his "D" game on the tee box.

Erik J. Barzeski
Tiger. By a dimple's depth.

Name One Top 20 Golfer Who Won't Be Around on the Weekend

Ron Varrial
Martin Kaymer's ranked 12th in the world, but he's been a disappointment in the majors, and in his U.S. appearances. During his young career, he's made just four cuts in nine majors and has yet to show the flashes of brilliance that made him a standout on the European Tour.

Danny Ottmann
Well I know one for sure, Anthony Kim. Kidding aside, I have to say I see Ernie Els watching on the weekend. Don't know why it's just a hunch but playing his first two rounds with Tiger could cause problems.

Donald Mackenzie
Steve Stricker. He got off to a hot start this year, and he has an Open-worthy game. But a bad shoulder cost him several weeks, and he's still trying to get his game back in shape.

Alan Olson
Luke Donald. He's had a good year thus far but as a shorter hitter, he may have a tough time with a 7,000-yard course. He MC last year and his best finish is T12 in 2006.

George Promenschenkel
Padraig Harrington, though I hope I'm wrong. Except for Tiger, he's been playing as poorly as any of the top 20 of late, and he can't stay in the hunt with less-than-solid play the way Tiger can.

Erik J. Barzeski
Padraig hasn't been playing great golf lately, and as much as I'd love to see the top ten players in the world duking it out all four rounds, I think Padraig falls short.

There's Always One Surprise on the Early Leaderboard At a U.S. Open. Who is it This Year?

Ron Varrial
Ricky Barnes is proving himself as a big-tournament golfer and this week should be no different. He comes in playing some of the best golf of his life. Since you might tell me it's no surprise if a guy with as many Top 10s as anyone on Tour this year, keep an eye on Rhys Davies. The guy's got five Top 3s on the European Tour this year, including two straight runner-up finishes. Never mind the fact Davies (45) is 30 spots higher in the World Golf Rankings than Barnes.

Danny Ottmann
Ryo Ishikawa. I have been very impressed with this young kid. He has the game to be a big force eventually on Tour.

Donald Mackenzie
I like Morgan Hoffmann, a New York-area kid who just finished his sophomore year at Oklahoma State and played his way into the field in Memphis.

Alan Olson
Deane Pappas. Missed the cut in his only PGA event of 2010 and got in through sectional qualifying. Seems like a perfect match to lead after Day 1.

George Promenschenkel
Rory McIlroy: A lot of game and the fearlessness of youth.

Erik J. Barzeski
I'm going with Erik Compton. Two years removed from thinking he might never SEE another major he's playing in one. No real thought in this - just a lot of wishful thinking.

What's the Better Venue: A Place You Can Play (Pebble Beach, Bethpage, etc.), Or A Place You Can Only Dream Of Playing (Winged Foot, Oakmont, etc.)?

Ron Varrial
Of the nation's best, most challenging courses, the best of the best are private. It's not like your beer league softball team can't enjoy the World Series just because they're not allowed to practice on Tuesday mornings at Yankee Stadium. At least the TV cameras allow us a peek into some of the courses we'll never see with our own eyes.

Danny Ottmann
I like venues that I can dream of playing one day. I will eventually play Pebble Beach one day so it's fun to watch any tournament there, especially the U.S. Open.

Donald Mackenzie
Pebble Beach is a bit of both - open to the public, but too expensive and remote for most people to ever play. I like that the USGA is mixing things up a bit and bringing the Open to more public facilities. Put me down as preferring to see the Open at public courses.

Alan Olson
I vote for the places you can play although for what the greens fees are for the USGA's picks, it's almost a dream either way.

George Promenschenkel
Can't we have both? I think it's cool to be able to actually play an Open venue (though I haven't), but I also enjoy seeing layouts that have hosted other Opens so as to offer some level of comparison between fields past and present. I'd like to see the USGA continue to mix it up, maybe alternate years.

Erik J. Barzeski
I like both. I like to play U.S. Open courses, but at the same time it's nice to see places on TV that I might never play. And let's not confuse Bethpage - where a round costs less than a fancy dinner - and Pebble Beach - where a round and the nearly required resort stay cost more than a mortgage payment - by calling them both "public." There are tiers to "public," after all, and Bethpage and Pebble are as far apart as it gets when championship golf is considered.

Who's the Star of the Week? The Winner or the Golf Course?

Ron Varrial
The course always goes down as the scene of the crime, or the stage upon which the hero shined. When the results are absurd, with overly penal rough and greens so slick the ball simply won't come to a rest, the course (and more specifically the USGA) becomes the star, for better or for worse. This week, Pebble Beach will provide the setting for a fair, demanding test to determine this year's champion, but the winner - by my prediction Tiger Woods - would be the star even if they played this Open on the moon.

Danny Ottmann
The star of the U.S. Open is always the winner. Pebble Beach is a great venue but it is senseless to take anything away from the winner of the U.S. Open.

Donald Mackenzie
The winner will be the star because of the golf course. Winning at Pebble counts double winning at Southern Hills or Congressional. No one disputes the course's merits or dramatic value, and having to navigate the 18th hole to finish off your victory burnishes the rest of your career credentials.

Alan Olson
The course gets a little love but at the end, the major star will be the winner, Phil Mickelson.

George Promenschenkel
Pebble Beach will be the star for the first 65 holes anyway, and probably for the back nine on Sunday, as well. If Phil wins his second straight major in convincing fashion, though, all bets are off. Ditto if Tom Watson makes another run in a major (What's the over/under on the number of times ESPN and NBC show the chip-in on 17 during the Open?)

Erik J. Barzeski
Pebble Beach will reign supreme while ESPN has the majority of the coverage. After that, the stars will bubble to the top. We'll still see the scenic shots of the ocean surf, the beaches, and the seventh and 18th holes - we just won't care as much.

Discussion

  1. Steve says:

    Surprise players:

    Fred Funk.
    Justin Leonard

  2. Jacob says:

    Good call on Morgan Hoffmann. Not so much on Deane Pappas...

  3. Shark says:

    i thought if phil could not be too nuts going all over the place with drives..his imagination and skill could get it done.
    tiger...i thought had little chance as he...just is not there right now...mentally or otherwise.
    i picked lee westwood...and i am currently a day behind in watching thru my pvr...so no idea if phils turnaround is still on...

    i do know that i too that that zach johnson in theory is good for an open like donald mackenzie states above..then i heard an announcer say he has never finished better than a tie for something in the forties!?!
    ...no way based on that is he likely to do much..........something about those challenging conditions dont jive with him.

    i say phil gets it done...or maybe even one of these semi unknowns.......

  4. bobsuruncle says:

    1. good to see McDowell take the win...
    2. Phil and TW did put up a good fight, though they didn't make it exciting on Day 4
    3. looks like Kaymer and Els came good and defied the staff predictions of missing the weekend
    4. looks like the younguns - Dustin Johnson and Ryo - got ahead of themselves, and shot themselves out with a couple of 80's
    5. what can you say about the older TW - Mr Watson - he has done himself proud once more

  5. Cornbread says:

    So much for Erik J. Barzeski predictions.

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