The second Major of the year gets underway this week in San Francisco at the Olympic Club. The last time the Olympic Club hosted a U.S. Open was in 1998, where the late Payne Stewart led for most of the tournament, only to squander a four stroke lead to lose to Lee Janzen. Stewart got his redemption a year later, beating a young Phil Mickelson at Pinehurst No. 2, before Stewart’s very untimely death just a few short months later. This year USGA officials have vowed to not let another player do what Rory McIlroy did to Congressional in 2011. Which was light up the host course and win by eight shots.
The Olympic Club is hosting its fifth U.S. Open and will surely challenge players with its narrow, tree-lined fairways and small, well-bunkered greens. As always, it will be a true test of golf, and look for players who are grinders and also hit fairways.
A Group - Phil Mickelson has finished 2nd a total of five times in U.S. Opens. He’s not getting any younger at 41 years of age either (he’ll turn 42 on June 16), but he’s having a solid year, with a victory and 4 other top 10’s on the season. He’s not known for being the straightest driver around, which worries me a bit with him at a tight track like Olympic, but he’s definitely a grinder. Mickelson will start on the bench for me, and instead I’ll look to start the World #1 Luke Donald in his place. Donald ranks 8th in Driving Accuracy and 1st in Scrambling.
B Group – The B group presents a lot of difficult decisions. I was all set to leave Tiger off my roster, until he went and won at the Memorial two weeks ago. Now I feel compelled to start him, but I’m holding my breath a bit. You just don’t know which player is going to show up. Starting alongside Woods I like Lee Westwood who’s fresh off a huge victory overseas. Westwood also leads the TOUR in GIR and also ranks 15th in Total Driving.
C Group - There’s no arguing that Jason Dufner is having a phenomenal year. Two victories and an “almost” at Colonial a couple weeks ago certainly prove that. Dufner currently ranks 11th on TOUR in Driving Accuracy and 6th in GIR, both which are very important stats for any U.S. Open. I like Dufner to start over another accurate driver (Graeme McDowell), because Dufner ranks 1st in scoring average before the cut (68.52), and 5th overall.
Starting Foursome: Luke Donald, Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Jason Dufner
On the Bench: Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell