US Open golf: 2013 themesJune, 2013
We look at the likely themes of what promises to be a very old-school week at Merion
The search for the next Best Player Never To Have Won a Major
With Scott’s heroics in Georgia the list for this category has been narrowed slightly though the likes of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker remain on the shelf.
As does the best Major-less player according to the world rankings, Brandt Snedeker.
I’m going to go with the genial Kuchar to tick his name off this unwanted list.
The American will turn 35 the week after Merion and, like Scott, his game has improved more than enough to be thought of as a genuine contender though he might not attract the attention of some of his peers.
Part of this is because he doesn’t do too much out of the ordinary, seemingly plodding along without too many disasters and without any weaknesses. Kuch is available at 40-1 should you fancy a flutter on the ever-smiling assassin.
It is now 100 years since Francis Ouimet’s win and the arrival of American golf
This was one of American golf’s most significant weeks as 20-year-old Ouimet became the first amateur to lift the US Open.
The championship at Brookline had been postponed to mid-September to allow Harry Vardon and Ted Ray to play. Ouimet, making his first appearance, took the British stars to a play-off.
It was all the more remarkable given that he was Brookline born and bred, had been caddying at the club from the age of nine and had a 10-year-old caddy, Eddie Lowery, by his side. The pair remained friends for the rest of their lives and Lowery was a pallbearer at Ouimet’s funeral.
In the play-off Ray was the first to drop away with a six at the 15th. A birdie at the 17th moved Ouimet two clear of Vardon and he eventually finished five clear of Vardon and six of Ray.
He would only go on to play five more US Opens. Ouimet also won two US Amateurs – he never turned professional.
Phil would still be the most popular winner
For all the European talk about Monty never winning a US Open spare a thought for Mickelson. This will be his 23rd assault on his national Open and he has nine top 10s including five runners-up spots.
Merion might not seem like a typical Mickelson successful hunting ground but the charm of the Californian is his unpredictability.
We can expect to see him turn up at Merion with something out of the ordinary in his bag but this is the one that he wants the most to add to his three Masters and lone PGA Championship victory.
His season thus far has been the usual hybrid of brilliance and the ordinary – he lipped out for a 59 en route to his Phoneix win and missed the cut by five at Bay Hill – but will leave very little to chance to try to avenge those close shaves at Pinehurst and Winged Foot.