US OPEN 2012: How will the favourites fare?June, 2012
Three NCG writers assess the chances of the players most fancied at the US Open this week...
TIGER WOODS (8/1)
JW: It seems to me that this week couldn’t set up much better for Tiger Woods. He can hit his stinging 5-wood or 2-iron off almost every tee, ensuring he stays out of trouble, and he’s obviously in a confident mood following his second win of the year. Can anyone see him not mounting a challenge this week?
DM: I think he has a great chance. As you say, he won’t need to use his driver on every hole – which is a big advantage for him – and there are few people in the world better once safely in the fairway. His putting has been good recently and the small greens should suit his style. In his prime, you wouldn’t look at anyone else.
LUKE DONALD (12/1)
JW: What about Luke Donald? Personally I just don’t think he has the bottle to triumph this week despite having one of the best short games in world golf. He’s under so much pressure given the face he hasn’t won a major before and I’m not sure he’ll be able to pull it off. I hope I’m wrong.
DM: Realistically Donald should win this week, but his major form is awful and even when he has played well in the past he hasn’t succeeded in major. For that reason I don’t fancy his chances.
JT: I slightly disagree and I think Donald will do well this week. Yes, he hasn’t produced in majors before but this is possibly the best opportunity he will have to win one. He’s on top of the world and on top of his game and the course suits him. I think he’ll have a good week.
Realistically Donald should win this week, but his major form is awful and even when he has played well in the past he hasn’t succeeded in major.
LEE WESTWOOD (12/1)
JW: Sticking with the theme of players under pressure to win a major, what about Lee Westwood?
DM: Finesse is not Westwood’s strong point and for that reason Olympic won’t suit him. He’s as solid as anyone in the field but out of the three majors left this year, the US Open will be the hardest for Westwood to win.
JW: There’s definitely added expectation coming into the tournament on the back of a win at the Nordea Masters. Everyone – Lee included – knows a golfer of his calibre should have multiple majors by now and that fact that he’s still without one piles the pressure on him.
DM: If the odds were 20/1 then I’d definitely say Westwood would be worth backing, but at 12/1 he doesn’t seem a good option.
RORY MCILROY (12/1)
JW: What about McIlroy as defending champion? He looks devoid of confidence at the moment and retaining the trophy certainly adds pressure. I’m not sure he’s a safe bet this week.
DM: His form isn’t good and the course doesn’t suit him so you wouldn’t back him again. The course at Olympic test a player’s ability to navigate fairways. You need to be able to hold the ball against the slope and then shape it the other way into the greens. McIlroy won at Congressional by hitting long drives past everyone else and bringing the course to its knees. He won’t be able to do that this week.
JT: I think everyone seems to forget that McIlroy is only 23. He should have his best years ahead of him so if he fails this year it is hardly a disaster. He needs to mature a little bit to win at places like Olympic, and I do believe that will happen eventually but right now he isn’t there. If he plays until he’s Lee Westwood’s age, the Northern Irishman will have another 64 majors to contend for, so he’s got plenty of time to add to his collection.
PHIL MICKELSON (18/1)
JW: At 18/1, Phil Mickelson surely represents a good price? His short game is phenomenal, he can hit it both ways, and he’s won Majors before. No reason why he can’t do it again here in my eyes.
DM: He has a great chance and 18/1 is a phenomenal price. His US Open and West coast record is amazing which makes him an excellent option for me. His form is patchy but we’ve seen him win Majors on the back of poor performances so that wouldn’t be too much of a concern for me.
KEY: DM = Dan Murphy, JW = Joe Whitley, JT = James Tompkinson