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Jack Fleck came out of nowhere to defeat Ben Hogan in the 1955 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. Could such a dark horse emerge again to win it all 57 years later?
Dustin Johnson as good luck charm for the San Francisco Giants? The big-hitting DJ smacked golf balls with pitcher Matt Cain before the hard-throwing righty tossed the first perfect game in SF history.
The U.S. Open is special in its own right, in part because of its Father's Day weekend tradition.
Is Tiger Woods back? He's relaxed and ready for the U.S. Open, but we'll have to wait and see what it means as play gets underway on Thursday.
The 2012 U.S. Open begins Thursday with first-round action from the Olympic Club in San Francisco. While a number of players are expected to contend for the 2012 title, all eyes on Thursday will be on the group of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.
In addition to the Woods, Mickelson and Watson pairing, a few other first-round groups are notable. Rory McIlroy will play with Luke Donald and Lee Westwood while Rickie Fowler will be paired with Ryo Ishikawa and Dustin Johnson.
Andy Zhang, the youngest player in U.S. Open history at 14 years old, will play with Hiroyuku Fujita and Mark Wilson in the first round.
First-round television coverage will begin at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN. Coverage will shift to NBC at 3 p.m. ET before moving back to ESPN at 5 p.m. ET.
Tee No. 1
10:15 a.m.: Beau Hossler (a), Scott Langley, Steve LeBrun
10:26 a.m.: Jason Bohn, Raphael Jacquelin, J.B. Park (a)
10:37 a.m.: Colt Knost, Steve Marino, Michael Thompson
10:48 a.m.: Gregory Bourdy, George Coetzee, Brendan Jones
10:59 a.m.: Jonathan Byrd, Patrick Cantlay (a), Kyle Stanley
11:10 a.m.: Retief Goosen, Zach Johnson, Vijay Singh
11:21 a.m.: Hiroyuki Fujita, Mark Wilson, Andy Zhang (a)
11:32 a.m.: Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson
11:43 a.m.: Tim Clark, Rod Pampling, Toru Taniguchi
11:54 a.m.: Peter Hanson, Francesco Molinari, Bo Van Pelt
12:05 p.m.: Dong-Hwan Lee (a), D.A. Points, Kevin Streelman
12:16 p.m.: Paul Claxton, Edward Loar, Alistair Presnell
12:27 p.m.: Cole Howard, Mark McCormick, Nick Sherwood (a)
3:45 p.m.: Casey Martin, Dennis Miller, Cameron Wilson (a)
3:56 p.m.: Jim Herman, Bill Lunde, David Mathis
4:07 p.m.: Nicholas Colsaerts, Simon Dyson, Charlie Wi
4:18 p.m.: Alvaro Quiros, John Senden, Gary Woodland
4:29 p.m.: Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood
4:40 p.m.: Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell
4:51 p.m.: Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Trevor Immelman
5:02 p.m.: Angel Cabrera, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy
5:13 p.m.: Ben Crane, Anders Hansen, Martin Laird
5:24 p.m.: Aaron Baddeley, Miguel A. Jimenez, Matteo Manassero
5:35 p.m.: Brian Harman, Mikko Ilonen, Spencer Levin
5:46 p.m.: Brice Garnett, Justin Hicks, Jesse Mueller
5:57 p.m.: Brian Gaffney, Brian Rowell, Alberto Sanchez (a)
Tee No. 9
10:00 a.m.: Shane Bertsch, Tommy Biershenk, Martin Flores
10:11 a.m.: Matthew Baldwin, Matt Bettencourt, Scott Piercy
10:22 a.m.: Thomas Bjorn, Branden Grace, Kevin Na
10:33 a.m.: Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods
10:44 a.m.: Stephen Ames, Tim Herron, Joe Ogilvie
10:55 a.m.: Padraig Harrington, Davis Love III, David Toms
11:06 a.m.: Charles Howell III, Carl Pettersson, Charl Schwartzel
11:17 a.m.: Bob Estes, Robert Karlsson, Robert Rock
11:28 a.m.: K.J. Choi, Kyung-Tae Kim, Y.E. Yang
11:39 a.m.: Robert Garrigus, Fredrik Jacobson, Alexander Noren
11:50 a.m.: Sang-Moon Bae, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
12:01 p.m.: Michael Allen, Anthony Summers, Marc Warren
12:12 p.m.: Hunter Hamrick (a), Scott Smith, Tim Weinhart
3:30 p.m.: Morgan Hoffmann, John Peterson, Aaron Watkins
3:41 p.m.: Jeff Curl, Nicholas Thompson, Casey Wittenberg
3:52 p.m.: Soren Kjeldsen, Peter Lawrie, Chez Reavie
4:03 p.m.: Olin Browne, Michael Campbell, Joe Durant
4:14 p.m.: Bill Haas, Jordan Spieth (a), Nick Watney
4:25 p.m.: Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose
4:36 p.m.: Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker
4:47 p.m.: Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Louis Oosthuizen
4:58 p.m.: Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa, Dustin Johnson
5:09 p.m.: Hunter Haas, Lee Slattery, Tadahiro Takayama
5:20 p.m.: Blake Adams, Alex Cejka, Kevin Chappell
5:31 p.m.: Roberto Castro, James Hahn, Darron Stiles
5:42 p.m.: Brooks Koepka (a), Samuel Osborne, Kyle Thompson
The second major of the golf season gets underway on Thursday morning as the 2012 U.S. Open begins from the Olympic Club in San Fransisco. Because the event is being held on the west coast, cable television and internet broadcasts, which usually cater to the east coast, will show each round from close to the beginning. There are multiple live streaming options online, depending on your internet provider and your viewing preferences.
USOpen.com will begin a live stream following their morning marquee group at 10:33 a.m. ET, 7:33 a.m. local time. They'll also have a stream that follows an afternoon group, starting at 4:29 p.m. ET. There are also multiple viewing options on WatchESPN.com, with ESPN3 coverage starting at 12 p.m. ET. They will have a marquee group feed, a feed for the 8th and 18th holes, and a stream that is a mirror of ESPN's television coverage. There is a two-hour gap in ESPN3's coverage, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., while NBC is doing live television coverage.
Golf fans can enjoy wall-to-wall coverage of the first round of the 2012 U.S. Open on Thursday.
ESPN has the broadcast from 12-3 p.m. EST. NBC taking over from 3-5 p.m. and ESPN will finish up the day from 5-10 p.m.
The USGA website will have live streaming coverage of the event all day long here.
Most of the buzz surrounding the first day comes from a star-studded pairing of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, who will tee off at approximately 10:33 a.m. EST.
For a look at the rest of the pairings and tee times in Day 1, check here.
Tiger Woods may be favored, but the real winner this week could be a golf course that eats the U.S. Open field alive.
At 14-years-old, Andy Zhang is the youngest player in U.S. Open history and living out a dream as part of a whirlwind week.
Jack Nicklaus was no speedster in his day, but he still believes today's golfers should pay a price for slow play.
Even on a Wednesday morning, Tiger Woods draws fans in droves at the U.S. Open.
SAN FRANCISCO -- There aren't many instances where Oregon football coach Chip Kelly goes relatively unnoticed, or plays second fiddle, but Wednesday morning was one. As Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay and Casey Martin meandered around Olympic Club for a U.S. Open practice round, Kelly followed closely behind, part of the entourage trailing the group. As all eyes focused on Tiger, Kelly was able to almost seamlessly blend in, laughing and holding conversation while strolling around the difficult Lake Course.
The reason Kelly was there is simple: Casey Martin, Tiger's old Stanford teammate and current head coach of the University of Oregon golf team, scored a practice round with Tiger. Both are Nike guys, obviously, and the grouping was a natural fit -- Cantlay, an incredibly talented amateur, rounded out the threesome, as well.
No word on if Kelly had any tips for the group, but we can go ahead and assume his advice would have something to do with speeding up the pace of golf.
If the Tiger Woods who surpassed Jack Nicklaus' all-time PGA Tour wins record shows up this week at The Olympic Club, game over, says the Golden Bear himself.
Many have tried, yet no English-born player has won a major in more than 15 years. Will that trend change this week at the U.S. Open?
A look at The Olympic Club's finishing holes, and what makes the course such a difficult test.
Tiger Woods expects to grind out his first two rounds at Olympic Club in virtual silence, despite his star-studded grouping with Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.
The 2012 U.S. Open is just one day away from starting, and Tiger Woods is the early favorite to win the entire tournament at the Olympic Club. But will he be the leader early in the tournament? The early odds on which golfer will lead at the conclusion of Round 1 have Woods at 10/1, the best odds for the opening-round leader.
Bovada has all the odds for the clubhouse leader after Round 1. Here are some of the notable golfers beyond Woods:
Lee Westwood, 16/1
Rory McIlroy, 16/1
Luke Donald, 18/1
Phil Mickelson, 22/1
Dustin Johnson, 33/1
Bubba Watson, 40/1
Johnson is coming off a victory at the St. Jude Classic last weekend while Watson won the first major of the year, the Masters Tournament. McIlroy is looking to defend his U.S. Open title after claiming victory last year.
At 14 years old, most golfers aren't ready to tackle one of the sport's major championships, but Andy Zhang isn't like most teenagers. He is presumed to be the youngest competitor in U.S. Open history when he takes the course on Thursday, according to Golf.com. However, Zhang did show his age on Tuesday when he asked caddie Chris Gold if it would be all right for him to get autographs before he took the course for a practice round.
Zhang was grouped with Bubba Watson, winner of the 2012 Masters Tournament, and Aaron Baddeley. As Golf.com also writes, Zhang began the day on the ninth tee and sent his first ball sailing into the rough and the trees. He asked for a mulligan, and as Watson's caddie remarked:
"I'm like, `Dude, you're in the U.S. Open, you can hit as many as you want in practice," said Watson's caddie, Ted Scott. "I just told him, `Look, just because you're 14 doesn't mean you can't win.' I say this: I don't want to play him for money."
That's some nice praise for Zhang. Can he be the next golf phenom?
Defending U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy heads into this year's tournament hoping to become one of just a few golfers to win the Grand Slam event in back-to-back years. Although McIlroy had struggled a bit in recent months, he made a strong showing at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis over the past weekend heading into the Open.
According to Mark Conley of the Mercury News, the No. 2 golfer in the world is taking away a lot of positives from his seventh-place finish at St. Jude.
"I shot a couple of good scores and I saw some really positive signs," he said. "Looking back on the week, it was a really good idea that I went there. I definitely feel more comfortable about my game going into this week than if I hadn't played.
"You're not just happy with top 10s any more. It's a good result, but it's not what you want," he said. "It's really given me a lot of self-belief knowing that I've won one of these before and that I can go and do it again. ... In golfing terms, it's changed me a lot. I feel like it's given me a lot of confidence. And I feel like I have a chance in these tournaments every time I tee it up."
McIlroy certainly has a chance. Though the competition will be fierce -- and the scoring is expected to be tight -- he could very well wind up with his second straight U.S. Open title.
History favors defending champion Rory McIlroy more than last week's winner, Dustin Johnson, to win the 2012 U.S. Open.
With just two more days left until the start of the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco on Thursday, Tiger Woods remains the betting favorite to win the tournament. His 6/1 odds lead the field, ahead of the likes of Lee Westwood (10/1), Luke Donald (12/1) and Rory McIlroy (14/1).
Woods is vying to tie Willie Jones, Bobby Anderson, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus for the most career U.S. Open wins. He will have to contend with an especially difficult course, not to mention a large field of talented golfers. Woods tees off 10:33 a.m. ET on Thursday in a group with Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.
Here are the current odds leaders to win the 2012 U.S. Open:
Tiger Woods 6/1
Lee Westwood 10/1
Luke Donald 12/1
Rory McIlroy 14/1
Phil Mickelson 20/1
Dustin Johnson 25/1
Jason Dufner 25/1
Adam Scott 33/1
Jim Furyk 33/1
Rickie Fowler 33/1
Zach Johnson 33/1
Hunter Mahan 40/1
Sergio Garcia 40/1
Steve Stricker 40/1
Bo Van Pelt 50/1
Bubba Watson 50/1
Charl Schwartzel 50/1
Louis Oosthuizen 50/1
Martin Kaymer 50/1
The 2012 U.S. Open will get underway on Thursday at The Olympic Club. The tee times and groupings for the opening rounds were released last week and, as to be expected, some of the groupings are significantly more intriguing than others. Let's take a look at some of the more notable groupings and see how interesting they seem. We'll go through the highlights, wave by wave.
The first wave off of the first tee is decidedly underwhelming, with little star power to speak of. Two of the groupings are somewhat notable, however.
11:10 a.m.: Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Zach Johnson: Besides being notable for being the only grouping in the tournament featuring a guy named Retief, this could be considered the "throwback" group. Names you recognize, but the group somehow totally lacks name value. Two Stars (Out of Five)
11:32 a.m.: Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson: Probably the most compelling grouping in the first wave on the first tee, any of these three players could make a surprising run on the notoriously difficult front nine. Two and a Quarter Stars
The first wave off the first tee on Thursday gets like One Star (It's not a fun or exciting group in any way.)
Now we're talkin'! Let's get us some of that sexy, sexy star power.
10:33 a.m.: Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson: Holy crap, are you kidding me? This is the casual golf fan's dream. The two biggest names in the tournament and the only pro golfer named Bubba. Fantastic. You also get a notable lefty and a notable "haha are you serious with that swing" swing. This is definitely the most fun group to watch in the early rounds. If you don't agree, you're just being silly. Five Stars. All of the stars.
11:06 a.m.: Carl Pettersson, Charl Schwartzel, Charles Howell III: If not for that group listed above, this would be a pretty compelling grouping. As it is, it should still be interested to see whether any of these three can put together a solid string of holes on the easier back nine. Three Stars
The afternoon waves get underway with a set of groupings that features a lot more star power than the morning front-nine group, including the top three golfers in the world, all in one convenient location.
4:29 p.m.: Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood: The world's top three ranked golfers in one trio. It'll be interesting to see how well they handle the rough front nine, but it may have plenty of entertainment value just in case they all self-destruct early. Four and a Half Stars
5:02 p.m.: Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy, Angel Cabrera: This is possibly the ultimate group of really great, world-class golfers that are totally overshadowed by the marquee groupings. One of these guys could surprise you and any of the three could conceivably win. Nobody's going to be watching them, though. Three Stars
5:13 p.m.: Martin Laird, Ben Crane, Anders Hansen: We all know what Laird and Crane are capable of. It's just a question of whether they'll do it. Three and a Quarter Stars
4:25 p.m.: Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose: Another compelling group that likely won't get much air time over the first two rounds, but could feature a breakout performance. Two and a Half Stars
4:36 p.m.: Steve Stricker, Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar: All three of these players have looked great recently. Will they continue their strong play? They certainly have an advantage in starting on the back nine. Three Stars
4:47 p.m.: Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Dufner: This is another trio that has looked great lately, and this could be considered the "pun grouping" as sportswriters will both love and fear a victor out of this group. Will Dufner duff it? will Day have his Day? Sportswriters from coast to coast are just hoping they won't have to type "Oosthuizen" a hundred times over the course of the tournament. Three and Three-Quarter Stars
4:58 p.m.: Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa, Dustin Johnson: If the PGA has a Justin Bieber at the moment, it's Rickie Fowler. Beyond just the haircut and the buzz, golf's wunderkind is looking for a chance to prove he's a legitimate threat. The U.S. Open may be the place he breaks through to the upper echelon. Four and a Quarter Stars
If anticipation wasn't high enough already for the 2012 U.S. Open tournament, a new and exciting feel-good story has been inserted into the narrative of the Grand Slam event. Following Paul Casey's withdrawal from the tournament on Monday, a very intriguing alternate was awarded the berth.
14-year-old Andy Zhang -- a native of China who has lived in the United States since he was 10 -- will become the youngest entrant to ever play in the U.S. Open.
Zhang lost a playoff in the Florida Sectional qualifier last Monday, but was already in San Francisco when he was awarded the berth and has signed in for the week. Zhang, who is already six feet tall and weighs 185 pounds, will play a practice session on Tuesday with Bubba Watson and Aaron Baddeley.
While most eyes will be on Tiger and Rory, this week's U.S. Open Championship has its fair share of storylines to choose from.
The 112th U.S. Open gets underway this week. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will both be trying to take their place in history.
Dustin Johnson entered the Top 10 of the 2012 World Golf Rankings this week after winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic over the weekend. Johnson jumped 10 spots in the rankings to become the 17th different player to appear in the Top 10 this year. He replaced Martin Kaymer, who fell to No. 12 overall.
The rest of the Top 10 remains unchanged. Luke Donald holds on to the top spot heading into the 2012 U.S. Open. He has held onto the spot for three consecutive weeks now.
1) Luke Donald
2) Rory McIlroy
3) Lee Westwood
4) Tiger Woods
5) Bubba Watson
6) Matt Kuchar
7) Justin Rose
8) Hunter Mahan
9) Jason Dufner
10) Dustin Johnson
The full rankings are available at the official of the 2012 World Golf Rankings.
A look at the 2012 U.S. Open, from the Olympic Club to the schedule and groups to watch as the tournament begins on Thursday.
No player has ever won a PGA Tour event the week before the U.S. Open and the Open itself. A lot is made of this every single year, especially when the guy who wins the tournament before the Open is a contender. In this case, the tournament before the Open was the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, and the winner was a familiar face on major Sunday, Dustin Johnson.
Unsurprisingly, someone mentioned this to Johnson after his win in Memphis. His response was as predictable as the question itself.
"I wasn't worried about the Open today," Johnson said with a smile. "I was worried about winning the FedEx. Next is a whole different week."
Major or not, back-to-back wins on the PGA Tour are rare. Tiger Woods was the last man to pull it off, in 2009. Vijay Singh accomplished the feat in 2008. The last time someone not named Woods, Singh or Phil Mickelson pulled it off was in 2003, when Ernie Els won the first two events of the PGA Tour season.
The reason that no one has ever won the tournament before and the Open itself is because winning back-to-back tournaments in an individual sport with hundreds of high-level competitors that is usually based on cumulative score, and not match play... is honestly really hard. The likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, even when completely healthy and on top of their games, need lucky bounces and still never have a five percent chance to win any given tournament.
Johnson wasn't worried about the Open on Sunday because there was no reason for him to be worried about the Open on Sunday. There's nothing about winning the week before the Open that makes a golfer less likely to win the following week. Johnson's entering the U.S. Open playing very good golf. How does that give him a smaller chance of winning the U.S. Open than not playing good golf entering the tournament?
With the 2012 U.S. Open set to kick off, it's now been four years since Tiger Woods's last victory at a major, his dramatic victory on one leg at the 2008 US Open.
As Carl Steward of the Silicon Valley Mercury News points out, no golfer has been able to take advantage of Tiger's absence. The last 14 majors have had 14 different individual champions, the second-longest streak without a repeat champion since the 1934.
If a new champion is crowned at the Olympic Club in San Francisco this weekend, the streak will be tied with a four-year run that began in 1998 for the longest streak.
Of the top 25 golfers in the world, 12 are among the 14 who have won major championships in the last four years. The other 13 are perhaps the biggest difference in modern golf, as there is a much larger pool of players capable of winning a major than at any point in the history of the sport.
The 2012 U.S. Open will get underway this week. The prestigious event will be held at the Olympic Club and is the second of the four annual Grand Slam events. Scoring is expected to be tight and, with the best golfers in the world vying for the title, you can imagine the field is wide open.
Still, with a recent tournament win by Tiger Woods, the superstar is once again tagged by oddsmakers as the early favorite to take home his fourth U.S. Open title. If Woods does pull off the impressive feat, he will enter into a tie for the most career U.S. Open wins, along with Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus.
Here are the early odds to win the 2012 U.S. Open:
Tiger Woods 6/1
Lee Westwood 10/1
Rory McIlroy 10/1
Luke Donald 12/1
Phil Mickelson 16/1
Dustin Johnson 20/1
Jason Dufner 28/1
Matt Kuchar 28/1
Bubba Watson 30/1
Adam Scott 33/1
Hunter Mahan 33/1
Justin Rose 33/1
Zach Johnson 33/1
Jim Furyk 40/1
Keegan Bradley 40/1
Louis Oosthuizen 40/1
Martin Kaymer 40/1
Nick Watney 40/1
Rickie Fowler 40/1
Steve Stricker 40/1
Tiger Woods has surely made his way around the Lake Course at Olympic in recent weeks to prepare for the 2012 U.S. Open, but he'll officially start Open week on Monday morning with the first practice round tee time. Woods is renowned for playing his practice rounds as early as possible, often getting to the course before the sun comes up and getting out of Dodge (or on the range) well before many of the patrons arrive.
He'll tee off at 7 a.m. local time on Monday morning at Olympic, playing with another headliner this week, albeit for entirely different reasons. Woods will play in a foursome that includes Casey Martin, his one-time teammate at nearby Stanford. Martin will make his second appearance at a major championship this week, the first being the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic.
Martin earned a spot in the field of that Open by qualifying at sectionals and entered the week in the center of firestorm of debate over whether he should be allowed to use a cart as an aid to a leg condition that made him unable to walk a competitive round of 18 holes. He made his way into the 2012 Open in the same way, qualifying on Monday with two rounds of 69. Martin no longer plays competitive golf and had not played competitively in five years before Monday's qualifying rounds. He's currently the coach at Oregon but his story will certainly be one to watch this week, even if the circumstances have changed, via Gary Peterson:
"It'll be different because there will be no expectations, no pressure," he said. "I don't play anymore. I just don't want to shoot a million."
Rounding out the foursome with Woods and Martin on Monday will be another Stanford product, sophomore Cameron Wilson, and Oregon State Beaver Nick Sherwood. Like Martin, both Sherwood and Wilson qualified at sectionals.
One group behind them in the second tee time of the day will be Bubba Watson. Bubba started out on Tour by being a regular practice round partner of Woods. Often at Bubba's insistence, Woods took him under his wing as a practice round companion and Tiger enjoyed warming up with Watson early in the week. The 2012 Masters Champ enters the week searching for his form after minimal reps since the season's first major.
Olympic is one of the most venerable clubs in golf, nestled on an immaculate track between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Merced. The cluster of courses surrounding Lake Merced nearly rivals the embarrassment of riches just to the south in Monterey.
Olympic provides one of the toughest tests in a Championship known for consistently providing the most challenging week in golf. It was built on a sand dune, which creates some of the fastest and firmest conditions in golf. With Mike Davis and the USGA tending care to the Lake Course, you can be sure the pros will be dealing with some of the most difficult but fair greens they'll face in their careers.
Recent Players Champion Matt Kuchar was out on the course this week and reported to Steve Elling of CBSSports.com that the greens are already running ridiculously fast. Kuchar even suspected the maintenance crews poured some water on them to slow them down a bit, something they'll have to keep an eye on over the next week. Via Elling:
"The greens on Wednesday were so firm, I saw some of the USGA guys out there on the course and I was telling them how amazed I was at how firm and fast it was," Kuchar said by phone from California. "The greens were just, incredibly firm.
"Thursday, it seemed like they realized they were too firm, too early, and dumped some extra water to soften them up a little bit."
Golf course architecture expert Geoff Shackleford considers Olympic the fastest and firmest U.S. Open venue, which is an incredible statement considering the courses in the regular Open rota. While the greens will be slick, the USGA has been extremely vigilant to make sure things don't get away from them and become too extreme after the disaster at Shinnecock in 2004.
The 2012 U.S. Open will get under way next week and the very best golfers in the world will compete for the most prestigious USGA championship in a week universally considered the toughest test in golf. Two players are attempting to enter the tournament with some momentum. The only problem is that momentum may not necessarily be a good thing.
No golfer in history has ever won a tour event and the U.S. Open in back-to-back weeks. That could be a frightening omen for Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy is just beginning to return to form and has taken over the lead at the St. Jude Classic as of Saturday. If he holds on for the win, it may not be the best thing for him, historically speaking. He isn't really thinking about that right now, however. He's just focusing on how he's performing at the moment.
"I saw a lot of positive signs with my ball striking. ... This is really what I wanted heading into next week," he said. "For the time being, my mind is focused on trying to win this tournament."
Lee Westwood, meanwhile, just captured the Nordea Masters title in Sweden on Saturday. Although the tournament was a European Tour event rather than a PGA event, he will attempt to win the first major of his career next week.
Regardless of whether history plays a part in the performances of Westwood or McIlroy next week, they will both have their work cut out for them as they compete against a stacked field.
Typically, most golf tournaments will roll with two-tee starts with a large field of golfers. It help speeds things up a bit and makes sure something is going on for virtually every hole. The PGA Tour and LPGA tour have been using this method for quite a while, but the USGA will utilize this method for the U.S. Open.
This year at The Olympic Club, however, the USGA will break further from tradition with golfers going off the first and ninth tees. Because the ninth tee is right below the clubhouse, it was only logical to have players start either one of the first two rounds there instead of shuttling them to No. 10. The USGA employed this strategy at both the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur and 2007 U.S. Amateur championships conducted at Olympic.
"I don't think it's going to make a real difference," USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said at the April 30 media day. "The reality is everybody has to start on the [second] nine one time. And everybody has to start on the [first] nine before the cut is made. I think it will balance out."
Good news for Phil Mickelson: no cell phones allowed at U.S. Open.
It's a question you've heard plenty of times in the past 72 hours, and a question you'll hear at least 72 more times until the first golfers tee-off next Thursday at The Olympic Club.
Fair or not, asking if Tiger Woods is "back" will be what fuels the attention and TV viewership for the 2012 U.S. Open.
With two PGA Tour victories this season, including last week's dramatic victory at the Memorial, it's an easy angle to play; not only because it may be true, but also because we're all so desperate for the Tiger Woods of old.
On Woods' chances next weekend, CBSSports.com's Steve Elling doesn't quite see it that way:
It's harder to handicap than ever before, really. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Five years ago, Woods was winning around 1½ majors a year on average. Now nobody can be sure whether he'll even make the weekend.
In March, Woods won at Bay Hill to snap a 30-month victory drought in official PGA Tour play, and took a huge header as the favorite at the Masters. In three consecutive events, he finished T40 or worse, as bad as any stretch of his career.
Depending on where you look, Woods is either this 2012 U.S. Open favorite, or right atop the list. He's a legitimate contender but, until he wins his 15th major tournament, it's probably not a safe bet to say that one of the most dominate golfers the sport has ever seen is back to his pre-2009 form.
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