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Who will win the Congressional medal of honour?

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Rob Hodgetts | 10:22 UK time, Wednesday, 15 June 2011

How's that crystal ball? You might want to give it a polish if you're looking for Congressional clues. This week's 111th US Open in Bethesda, Maryland should be re-labelled the US Wide Open.

World golf is in a state of flux. The old icons are waning. The top spot in the world rankings is being passed around. The young guns are yet to fire fully.

A quick glance at a few bookies has Lee Westwood or Luke Donald as favourite at about 12-1, followed closely by Phil Mickelson. Rory McIlroy is available in the 20s and then a group that includes Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson at about 25-1. The ailing Tiger Woods is missing of course - out injured, and out of the world's top 10.

The water is muddied further when you consider seven of the past eight major champions were first-time major winners. Last time out it was South African Charl Schwartzel at the Masters. Each of the last 10 majors has also been won by a different player.

"A few years ago maybe it was 10 or 12 players [who could win] but now it's so spread out. I think it could be anybody - 30 to 40 is my guess," said world number three Kaymer.

Let's start with Mickelson, who will celebrate his 41st birthday on the opening day on Thursday. The left-hander would dearly love to finally land his national title after five runner-up finishes in 20 starts, most recently behind Lucas Glover at Bethpage in 2009. The four-time major champion has been hit-and-miss this season, barring a spectacular win at the Houston Open in April, but he is confident he can fire at the right time.

"When I was trying to win my first major championship, if you focus so much on the result, so much on winning, sometimes you can get in your own way," he said.

"So I'm trying not to think about winning as much as I am trying to enjoy the challenge that lies ahead and the process. Having been in contention so many times through the years, I really believe that I can win this tournament."

World number one Donald must be considered another leading candidate. The US-based Englishman leads the US money list and has finished in the top 10 in his last eight PGA Tour events, and in 15 of his last 16 tournaments. Donald won the WGC Match Play in February and overhauled Westwood at the top of the world rankings when he beat his countryman in a play-off for Europe's PGA Championship.

At 33, Donald is often described as a US Open-type player, well suited to the tight fairways, penal rough and slick greens typically associated with the year's second major.

His best US Open result has been tied 12th in 2006 and he shot 78 in the last round at Pebble Beach last year to finish tied 47th. A generally misplaced accusation is that he isn't long enough - he is ranked 153rd in driving distance with an average of 279.9 yards - to contend at a US Open.

Congressional Country Club's Blue Course will measure 7,574 yards, the second-longest in major history. But length isn't everything. Donald came fourth at the Masters in April and that measured 7,435 yards.

"It's refreshing to see that the game is not being out-powered," said defending champion Graeme McDowell.

"Luke's iron play has always been unbelievable, and I think that's one of the keys. I always knew he had a great wedge game and a great short game and a putting stroke to die for, so he's really got his game polished up and driving it a lot better. He's really got the whole package now."

Graeme McDowell (left) and Lee Westwood at CongressionalMcDowell (left) and Westwood practise together at Congressional. Photo: Getty

Westwood, the world number two, has been knocking on the major door for a few years, notably at the Masters in 2010. The 38-year-old, who has won three times in recent months, has also had three top-10 US Open finishes, came second and third in the last two Opens, and was third in the 2009 USPGA. It's either a matter of time before he bags a big one, or it's becoming a problem, depending on your view.

An additional pressure for Westwood and Donald is the fact that no Englishman has won a major since Nick Faldo in 1996, or won the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970. And there are the constant jibes flying about that topping the world rankings without a major title is somehow less of an accomplishment.

Germany's Kaymer is the defending USPGA champion and took over as world number one from Westwood - who in turn stole Woods's crown last October - in February. Kaymer was seventh at Pebble Beach last year but missed his fourth straight cut at the Masters.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy is back for his first major since his Augusta collapse when he squandered a four-shot lead at the start of the final round, carding 80 to slip to 15th. He bounced back with a third in Malaysia the following week and was fifth at Memorial a couple of weeks ago. But the measure of how much he learnt at Augusta will be if he gets into contention again at Congressional. He was tied 10th at the US Open in 2009, but missed the cut last year.

So what of the American challenge behind Mickelson? For the first time since 1994, no Americans hold any of the four major titles. Since 2000, there have been just four American US Open winners, and three of those were Woods (2000, 2002, 2008). And along with fifth-ranked Mickelson, there are only three other Americans in the world's top 10 - Stricker (4th), Kuchar (6th) and Johnson (9th).

Of the main contenders at Congressional, Stricker has had two fourths and won at Memorial, runner-up Kuchar has eight top 10s and Mahan, rated higher than his 20th ranking, has finished in the top 10 seven times. Then there's Johnson, another player like McIlroy with a point to prove after shooting 82 to blow a three-shot lead going into the final round 12 months ago.

And what of McDowell? Since 1991, only Woods and Retief Goosen have finished better than 40th in trying to defend the US Open. The last to defend successfully was Curtis Strange in 1988-89.

McDowell had a stellar 2010 but has been off colour recently - including blow-outs at both the Players Championship and Wales Open - and admits the burden of being US Open champion has hung heavily.

"Having arrived here I feel a weight has been lifted and I can move on with the rest of my career," said the 31-year-old.

If there is one area that will prove the difference this week, it is the greens. According to the United States Golf Association, they will measure 14-14.5ft on the Stimpmeter. That's known as lightning. Take note - Stricker and Donald rank third and fourth in the PGA Tour's number of putts-per-round stats.

The USGA's philosophy is to make the US Open "the most rigorous, yet fair and complete, examination of golf skills, testing all forms of shot-making". The key at Congressional will be patience, a word you will hear a lot this week.


  • Comment number 1.

    Great post Rob. I agree there are a few top contenders this week. Certainly Luke and Lee have to be favourites. Both are in amazing form.
    I think Lee is the new Monty...he will do amazing in Europe and win the odd time is the US but he has let to many majors slip through his fingers now for me to think he can ever win one.
    On the other hand I think Luke D will win this week, the course suits his game, he had a great head on his shoulders and now with the confidence of being World No.1.

    Predictions...Luke to be there come back 9 sunday along with Steve Stricker!

  • Comment number 2.

    Mc Ilroy by 5- 8 strokes, something tells me he is going to blow this away.

  • Comment number 3.

    I have a new strategy for picking the winner - It seems to be that we'll have loads of predictions from everyone and then the winner will be someone that came in under the radar, that no-one mentioned - McDowell last year, Oosthuizen, Schwartzel etc. So I think I'll wait and put a line through everyone named, then pick a winner from there!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Da Points (USA) at 200 - 1.


  • Comment number 5.

    I think P.A Points will be the supprise winner! I think hes 200-1 :)

  • Comment number 6.

    Mr Consistency Jim Furyk at 60/1! Past winner of course...

  • Comment number 7.

    is Ian Woosnam playing?

  • Comment number 8.

    A word for Martin Laird who is the only Brit to win a stroke-play event in the US this year along with 4 other top 10 finishes.

  • Comment number 9.

    Another Aussie dominated major...

    Value: Marc Leishman 250-1

    Winner: Adam Scott (with Steve Williams on his bag) 60-1

    G-Mac will do us proud as well

  • Comment number 10.

    Good blog - agree that this is wide open. I'd dearly love to see Mickelson finally nail this one but if I had to put money on anyone I'd say Stricker for his current form and his sharpness around the green.

  • Comment number 11.

    I honestly think that McDowell will struggle this week as he has not been playing well lately and he has the added pressure of being the defending champion.

    One thing in his favour though is that he has a relatively low profile grouping for the first two rounds although in my opinion I don't think that this will help that much and I'm willing to have a punt that he will fail to make the cut.

    As for a winner, I would go for for one of the top Americans to take it this year, somebody from the last Ryder Cup team for example. If I was to pick one in particular I'd say Johnson, with maybe an e/w punt on Fowler thrown in as well.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks Rob, a good read. Definitely agree on Stricker and Donald for their short game and current form - US Open winners seem to come into the tourney on form rather than turn it on for the 4 days.

    At slightly longer odds (and a T5) I've gone for KJ, Mark Wilson, Toms and Goose (who seems to have turned a bit of a corner).

    But I do like Daffy's idea!

  • Comment number 13.

    Good point about Martin Laird, Eileen. Completely under the radar yet has all the attributes of a Major Champion, especially at Congressional. Hits it as far as he wants, hits it very high and has finally improved his short game. It would be interesting to know why the BBC never covers him.

    Don't agree with Rob comparing Augusta with Congressional vis-a-vis Luke, apples and oranges. Still think all these 460+ yard par fours will be too much for a shortish hitter.

    1). 2). 3).? Mahan, Westwood, Choi.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with Kwini, I think the course may be too long for Donald. When he does stray off the tee he'll be a long way back in some pretty deep rough. His excellent short game will get him out but maybe not on every occasion.

    The course suits a drawer of the ball and Kuchar is one such currently in good form and would be my pick. Karlsson is also playing well and for my third choice I would pick Bubba as he is bound to win one soon and I want to say I predicted it.

  • Comment number 15.

    I've backed Luke Donald to win it, and fingers crossed he can
    As an outside each way bet I've backed Anthony Kim. He’s not in the best of form, but he has won a competition here before in 2008, and I managed to get 175/1 and I think that’s quite good value.

    KJ Choi has also won here before in '07 and looks extremely well priced at 28/1

    But this competition makes picking a Grand National winner like ‘hook-a-duck’ at the local funfair. Roll on Thursday!

  • Comment number 16.

    Bud Fox - Disagree, this is a thinker's course, not sure it will suit the bombers. As Graeme McDowell said yesterday, you really have to plot your way around. Also, Luke Donald won the WGC-Matchplay on a course that was 7,800 yards long. Congressional is 7,574 yards.

  • Comment number 17.

    Bud Fox, you make it sound like Donlad can only drive 230 yards!

    It's no longer the case, he's worked hard on his length over the last few years, he is not a short hitter! Surely you could see that during the matchplay and at Wentworth? He was comfortably driving past Kaymer.

  • Comment number 18.

    I didn't mean to make it sound like that, honest! I just think that unlike some other long courses it is very unforgiving to the shorter hitters.

    To be honest folks I hope I am wrong because there is nobody I want to win it more than Luke. He is a great golfer and worthy number 1 and a victory here would hopefully quieten the doubters.

    But I just don't see it.

  • Comment number 19.

    Re: 'Daffy' - think Justin Rose might be 'under the radar' - possible winner this week?

  • Comment number 20.

    Firstly I'm going for Rory Sabbatini (who is 13th in the FedEx cup points) and the South African players seem to be doing very well at the moment he's also 100/1 to win it ! Also Jonathan Byrd (who is 10th in the FedEx cup points) and is also 100/1 so those are my two picks because I reckon it will be an unknown face to win it like 2009 !

  • Comment number 21.

    Come on Lee Westwood or Luke Donald...Can one of them become the 2nd English man in the last 40 years to win a major?

    Wow when u say it like that...there has only been 1 English major winner in the last 30-40 years!

    How is that possible?

  • Comment number 22.

    Whichever way you look at it, Donald is 153rd on Tour in driving distance (a fraction under 280 yds a poke) and one assumes his extra length from last year is because he's hitting it straighter. He's correspondingly shorter with his irons, a significant disadvantage from the fairway, insurmountable from the rough.

    7,800 in the Arizona desert is as apples and oranges as Rob's correlation with Augusta.

    I'm a big Lukey fan and his short-game-to-die-for will keep him competitive. But he gets increasingly crooked as the tournament heats up and it'll be a stretch for him to improve on his US Open best - as Rob says, 12th place. Much better chance at The Open and the PGA.

  • Comment number 23.

    19 bushtik - yes quite possibly, but now he's been mentioned I've scribbled him off my list!

    So, going by my earlier theory, the below will not be holding the US Open trophy on Sunday...


  • Comment number 24.

    There's lies and then there's statistics Kwiniaskagolfer!

  • Comment number 25.

    wow cant believe only 1 English major winner in 40 years!

  • Comment number 26.

    Did you have to mention Westwood james? That's him ruled out!

  • Comment number 27.

    :) lol

  • Comment number 28.

    Of course there have been English major winners in the last 40 years, Sir Nick Faldo ring any bells? Just none has won the US Open in that time.

  • Comment number 29.

    Wouldn't it be great for golf if Manassero won his first major now that we are looking for a new star. But my money is on KJ Choi or Robert Karlsson to win. The Westy Donald Kaymer grouping means none of them will win and as for the Aussies, not this week or not in the next ten years for the Ashes.

  • Comment number 30.

    I agree with Kwiniaskagolfer on Luke Donald’s chances. His short game may keep him in the hunt but he won’t have enough length to win. Would love him to win though!
    Daffy – 2 more to strike off for your list.
    Paul Casey – 66 – 1, would fit nicely into “under the radar” category.
    YE Yang – 100 -1, 3 top 10s in 10 starts on US Tour.

  • Comment number 31.

    I must admit I find predicting Major winners very tricky. In the Tiger dominated era, I always used think it was 'too obvious' to pick him. I usually have a feeling it will be a sound established player who is 'due a major', but who comes under the radar. Like Cabrera, Harrington or Cink did for instance. Then afterwards you think 'yeah, I'm not surprised he won'. The only one I have ever correctly predicted was Calchaveccia, and I can't even spell his name.

    One reason it's so tricky is that almost any player in the field 'can' win. I would love it to be one of the English guys, ideally Westwood or Donald but I also (irrationally) think that's too obvious. Maybe Casey isn't a bad pick? I'd love Garcia to win but that would be unlikely too. As for a US winner, possibly Watson, Johnson or Mahan - guys who have knocked on the door without winning. Can't see Kim doing it this year.

    After all that whittering, I'm going for Kuchar!

  • Comment number 32.

    Rusholme Ruffian :

    please read my post properly...I said there has only been 1 English major winner (Nick Faldo) in the last 40 years.

    Thats 160 majors with 1 English winner...Im just saying it sounds pretty unbelievable for a sport the English invented.

  • Comment number 33.

    Sport the English invented ???? I think our friends north of the border may have something to say about that (or possibly the Dutch at a push). Two nations who have managed to combine to win a total of 3 majors in the same period.

  • Comment number 34.

    Hey could be a great win for Garcia after Qualifying (remember Michael Campbell winning) and Garcia is finally starting to mature on the course.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well I think that's most of my favourites crossed off! You know, the list of available picks is looking very interesting, I think this might just work. If you want a copy, e-mail me, 50p per copy ;)

  • Comment number 36.

    I think that Matteo Manassero will be worth a punt at a top 5 finish. He is straight off the tee and has an excellent short game. Although only just turned 18 years old, I really think that he is going to excel into one of the best players on the planet. Hes already ranked 30 in the rankings and has already won 2 european tour titles before he turned 18.
    What I think will work in his favor is that for the first two days he will be playing alongside the Molinari brothers, both fellow Italians and I think this will calm him and make him feel comfortable on the course.
    Dont be suprised if he's in one of the last two groups on Sunday!

  • Comment number 37.

    ndg1984 - Donald has already been written off by some because of his 'lack of length', unfortunately Manassero is shorter. Plus, he doesn't pass Daffy's theory!

  • Comment number 38.

    Harrington - you heard it here first

  • Comment number 39.

    Surprised there's been no mention of Ian Poulter, although again like other posts I think Casey is good value for the money, and of the Americans Matt Kucher looks the best bet followed by Bubba Watson.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ James Matthew....Faldo won more than one major so your maths of 1/160 is wrong.....

  • Comment number 41.

    fate will dictate that adam scott wins, especially with that caddie :-) , anyhoo 66/1 . £5 each way, close at the masters, time for him to step up to the plate. as for the europeans, i'd like westwood to go close. mcilroy will bottle it, AGAIN !!

  • Comment number 42.

    Well in my humble opinion this one has Tiger written all over it. He looked back to his old self at Augusta ... or very nearly ... and that will be good enough to win unless someone else plays out of their skin. Available at a great price too (I was offered 33/1 yesterday so have lumped on). If not Tiger, Nick Watney is my hunch.

  • Comment number 43.

    saga, i'll give you 500/1 on woods :-) ps: he is not playing !!

  • Comment number 44.

    42 - Watney is a good call; Woods isn't! I'll do better than 500-1 - I'll give you a bazillion to one! Can't see Scott winning somehow. It was a surprise when he went close in the Masters. Glover might not be a bad bet, and then there is the likes of Vegas and Woodland (although I'm not 100% certain they have both qualified either!) who have done well lately. That said, do either have the all-round game to win? I also like Matteo for a top 5 and finally McIlroy might just exorcise the ghoss of Augusta.

  • Comment number 45.

    KJ Choi previously won here, as has another unmentioned man... Anthony Kim-100/1, quiet this year i know but im thinking he could do it

  • Comment number 46.

    i have gone for mcilroy at 18\1. decent finishs in last few majors and reckon have learned from augusta disaster. Manassero as dark house at 90\1. his driving distance could be the issue on this monster course. Scott looked good at augusta and has Williams on the bag. his experience of 13 majors will help. at 60\1 worth punt. and lastly Jason Day at 45\1. great value on up and coming player. good performance at pga and 3rd in last issues with his driving as in top 20 on Pga tour. putting decent too. reckon in for good four days of golf.

  • Comment number 47.

    Interesting how this post chimes in nicely with Rob's last post about world no 1 status. The real test of the world number 1 status is not whether he won the last major, but who's most likely to win the next one. The bookies don't lie, they're only in it for the money.

    On that basis the ranking system doesn't stack up too badly.

  • Comment number 48.

    ernie els worth a mention... i think im right in saying he won the last open at congressional? out of form but normally seems to turn up at the majors.... does he still have the bottle though

    also think as well as patience, bravery could be key to this one, possibly giving a couple of the younger players a chance. maybe rickie fowler or ryo ishikawa

    just a few more names for everyone .... definately in agreement with rob's pun 'us wide open', made me laugh

  • Comment number 49.

    If the US Open is all about consistency and making the least mistakes then Luke Donald should have a good chance.

    If not, then Hunter Mahan. This dude will be a star, mark my words.

  • Comment number 50.

    @#13 kwiniaskagolfer - That's a bit unfair on the Beeb. Laird used to actually write a blog for them. On his form this year he is definitely a great outside shot at 100/1.

    I also think Snedeker has a half-decent chance with his putting game. But with the greens running at 14ft on the Stimpmeter I reckon that even the best putters are going to have serious trouble rolling them. That means it sets it nicely up for Donald's short game...... we'll see.

  • Comment number 51.

    Martin's blog went missing also, almost impossible to find unless your drilling for data was better than BP's for oil.
    Only place for informed Martin Laird coverage was on 606.

  • Comment number 52.

    Got KJ at 33-1. i like those odds

  • Comment number 53.

    Glover long and straight enough for me. Form good and not afraid of getting over the line.
    Edfors and Garrigus my pick of the long uns at crazy odds.

  • Comment number 54.

    Good blog Rob,'re joking right, if not, whoever took your Tiger Woods to win bet must have been peeing himself!!

    This one is really wide open, there are favourites but I wouldn't put anyone better than 20/1, maybe Donald.

    I think this one could be Westwoods, he is playing so solidly, hits it long it should be a tournament of who makes the fewest mistakes, ie Donald / Westwood / Stricker are the favourites but there are so many who could win.....even the amateurs??

    I'll stay away from the bookies on this one, come on the brits / irish / euros!!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Backed 4 in the US Open this week; Choi (33/1), Baddeley (80/1) and Johnson Z (100/1) however my main bet is on Kuchar (25/1). Now I know what you're thinking, they are all moderate length hitters and it's a monster course however, they are all good ball strikers; finding fairways and greens on a regualr basis, should help them out this week. What they also have in common is their putting. All four are good on and around the greens, something that should hold them in good stead this week. They all have shown good form this year too, Choi and Badds winning and Kuch and Zach putting in their usual top 15 performances. Now I may be proved wrong, they could all flop and if they do, as long as a european wins (Donald preferably), that's fine with me :-) Also backing Coetzee in France (in an ew double with Kuchar) 1st post so be kind. :-)

  • Comment number 56.

    KJ to win @40/1, Yang and Byrd outside bets to win and Kim for a top 5 finish.

  • Comment number 57.

    How about "tin Cup" McAvoy (Kevin Costner), but only if Cheech is on the bag and Russo is waiting for him on the 72nd !! (1000-1 ?)

  • Comment number 58.

    informative post but you did not actually name any contenders other than the obvious, everyone names is in the top 10!!

  • Comment number 59.

    Who was the greatest and worst Ryder Cup captain of all time?
    Best: Tony Jacklin
    Worst: Nick Faldo

  • Comment number 60.

    Sergio Garcia will win this, he's won at the congressional before, his driving is the best in the game and his putting is improving, if he is within a 2 shots of the leader on the final day he will win. Destiny.

  • Comment number 61.

    45 - Chalkie08 - I backed Kim e/w @ 175/1
    I was tempted with Choi myself but plumped for Donald and Kim

  • Comment number 62.

    From the UK, I can only really see Westwood being there come the crunch. Donald is playing solidly at the moment but doesn't really come to the fore in majors. Of the US boys, I can't see Johnson's putting being good enough. I fancy Furyk to make the top 5 and Kuchar to be there or there abouts at the very end. I've also got a fiver on Watney too!

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi Kwini, indeed 606 was the complete source of all things The Laird however hang on to your niblick, the BBC have an interview with Martin albeit it's BBC Scotland so it hasn't made the main golf page. They've sent a reporter to Congressional and one with a strong Shetland accent which hopefully doesn't play havoc with Martin's own hybrid.

    I had a small each-way flutter on Robert Rock and his luscious locks after his impressive performance in Italy but now I read he's only arrived in the US after having visa problems (silly boy) and will play without having a practice round. It will be interesting to see how he performs.

  • Comment number 64.

    Despite the success of GMac in last year's US Open and Europeans at the top of the world rankings, I think the US Open will still be dominated by US tour players with the odd foreigner in with a shout ie KJ Choi. The stats reveal that there has only been one British winner since Tony Jacklin in 1970, even Faldo could not win the elusive championship.

    I also believe on some occassions the USGA have set up the course too difficult and the result tends to be not much more than a lottery. Past winners like Andy North and Lee Janzen, who both won the US Open twice but never won anything else worth talking about. Hopefully the course will be tough, but fair and we will get a classy winner. My top 3 for value - Jonathan Byrd, Lucas Glover and Nick Watney.

  • Comment number 65.

    59. james mathew

    For me the best and worst Ryder Cup captains were in the same match in 2004. Bernhard Langer showed an unbelievable combination of attention to detail and motivational skill, and Hal Sutton was completely clueless. I agree that Nick Faldo didn't cover himself in glory but at least he tried to do his homework on the course and the opposition, it seemed to be his people skills that let him down. Sutton messed up his pairings, his planning, his motivation and everything else. As soon as the Woods/Mickelson partnership didn't work (and it was surely never going to) he ran out of ideas. Regarding the US Open I have a feeling that Stewart Cink has another major in him. He didn't get proper credit for the Open in 2009, all anyone remembers is Watson. He's played well at Congressional before and I think he'll fly under the radar this week.

  • Comment number 66.

    Would love to see a European win it again - Donald has to have a chance but I think he may struggle with the length. Westwood, G-MAC and Poulter also all in with a shout and I really like the look of Martin Laird.

    I've only noticed one other mention of Bubba Watson - if length is gong to be a factor he's got to be in with a shout and not bad value at 45-1. His form isn't bad, he's ranked 12th in world, just missed out in the PGA last year and has a tour win this year. For the other Americans I'm thinking Kuchar, Mahan or Mark Wilson.

    I also like the look of Aaron Baddeley - he's been consistent on the PGA Tour for a while and looks a good pop at 80-1.Bottom line is though - there's so many possible contenders! It's not like a few years ago when any major was likely to be won by either Woods, Mickleson, Singh or Els. It's nice to see such an open field!

    I'm probably going to go for Watson or Baddeley......and will no doubt be wrong!

  • Comment number 67.

    So, I have placed my bets according to my theory, 5 players none of which have had a mention on this blog or in the comments, so will follow the pattern of recent major winners in winning 'under the radar'.

    I will reveal all once play beings, so as to not jinx them. It makes very interesting reading! :)

  • Comment number 68.

    Shane Lowery is playing well...he might a dark horse?

  • Comment number 69.

    Off topic, but excellent post #65. I think Langer was the master tactician and as you say, Sutton was clueless. His strategy for the final day pairings was to 'put them out in the order that they qualified'. Hardly scientific. I don't think his pairings were much better.
    I personally think that Faldo gets a raw deal. He lost, and now everyone jumps on the 'Faldo has no people skills' bandwagon. I don't buy that. None of us armchair pundits know the guy, and everyone seems to accept this media created automaton image that started during his playing days (admittedly he didn't do himself any favours on some occasions). Whilst we got fairly well beaten that year, it was close until a few key games went their way. Lets not forget that Gallagher got beaten but then got another crack at it.
    What I remember more about that Ryder Cup is the disgraceful (IMO) behavious of Azinger, when he called for the crowd to be "the 13th man". He went down (even) further in my view then. He was a plonker anyway, after that ridiculous fist pumping against Fasth in 2002. You would think, after Brookline 1999, that the captains would recognise that this type of gamesmanship is not cricket so to speak, and also that the fans (esp the US ones) don't need any second invitation to behave like hooligans. For me, golf is the one sport where there is (or shouldn't be) any cheating, gamesmanship or crowd influence. IMO, Captains like Stockton, Crenshaw and Azinger are basically saying 'we can't win fairly, so we'll whip up the crowd to try and put you off'.
    If you look at it that way, the worst US captain was Crenshaw and the best was Strange, who at least behaved like a gentleman.
    Anyway, back on topic, after some careful consideration, here are my top 15 picks for the US Open. I wonder If I have covered enought bases here:
    Day, Byrd, Casey, Choi, Glover, Haas, Kuchar, Laird, Mahan, McIlroy, Snedeker, Stricker, Villegas, Watney, Woodland

  • Comment number 70.

    Driving distance....some folks are dismissing Luke Donald because they claim he's too short of the tee or too short in general to win the US open. I have a couple of observations:

    1. He's only 4 yards behind G-Mac.. last year's winner
    2. He's only 10 yards behind Cink, who many of those same people are tipping
    3. Having watched him in recent tournaments, I think he's longer/more competitive in length than the stats suggest, and I saw very little evidence to support a claim he's not long enough.

    That said, I'm not backing him - I just think his run of form is due to come to an end, and the additional pressure the US Open brings to bear might just be what ends it.

  • Comment number 71.

    D'oh!.. I didn't mean Cink.. I meant Stricker! Well.. they're both Steves

  • Comment number 72.

    1 English major winner in 30 years although he did win 6 of them!

    Being a Scotsman, our only real hope is Martin Laird and I dont think he'll win.

    I think Donald for the win. My outside bet is Toms. Garcia is an E/W bet for me. Thats what I've put on anyway.

  • Comment number 73.

    Steve Cink has no chance!

  • Comment number 74.

    I'm dying to know which 5 names Daffy came up with that haven't been tipped here (I thought this post had mentioned everyone but Peter Alliss).

    #69 you make a fair point about Faldo, who was defended by his team immediately after the defeat. Also agree about Azinger, who went out of his way to rabble rouse and also made it personal and acrimonious with Faldo.

    For what it's worth I got 100/1 on Stewart Cink five minutes before play started. That's probably jinxed him straight away.

  • Comment number 75.

    I've just skimmed the posts here and it seems to me that no-one has mentioned Kaymer (World No. 3!) other than Rob himself (not that i think he'll win it!!).

    It does seem really quiet wide open this year, I backed Ricky Fowler to win the masters and he was looking good until a shank on day 3, i think i'll be backing him in all four majors this year as he offers pretty good odds and there's a chance he'll contend. that said i better get down the bookies!!

  • Comment number 76.

    Agree with 1 or 2 others that K J Choi certainly merits a mention at 33-1. Winner of the Players this year and a previous winner at Congressional. Very hopeful he can at least get into a place. I've also backed Stricker & Watney. The latter played well in all the majors last year and should probably have won the PGA. Hopefully that experience will help him here.

  • Comment number 77.

    The wait is over. Here are the players I have chosen. I know what you will say, not a chance, but didn't we say that about Oosthuizen, Schwartzel etc?

    Geoff Ogilvy 70-1
    Ryan Moore 80-1
    Alvaro Quiros 90-1
    Peter Hanson 125-1
    Brian Gay 140-1

    Hang on while I fetch my wheelbarrow! :)

  • Comment number 78.

    #77 Daffy

    Quiros could be a great shout. Hits it miles. If he's in contention at the weekend in the first major after Seve's passing there'll be a lot of emotion and a lot of goodwill for him.

  • Comment number 79.

    Indeed DJ. His chances, along with my other 4 picks, have significantly increased since nobody named them as possible winners. We will soon find out if this is a wise system to deploy! No doubt favourite Donald will win now. In which case, I will still be happy :)

  • Comment number 80.

    I,ve gone for reitief Goosen after watching him last week and managed to get 80/1. Since then had a punt on David Toms and Lucas glover who was an unbeleivable 119/1 last night on the exchanges, although I think Westwood will struggle in the heat and humidity with the green speed think it will go to someone who plays on the PGA tour and would probably make Stricker and \mickleson favourites for this event.
    i wouldn,t back anyone who played in Italy last week as I think they need longer to acclimatise
    Not sure if he,ll win it but think Donald will be there or there abouts

  • Comment number 81.

    Good call, Eileen. Nice little piece on The Laird and interview.
    Thanks Beeb!

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 69

    No, I'm not overly keen on the 'crowd as 13th man' stuff either. Monty came out with that line a number of times at Celtic Manor, didn't he? Pavin was far more low key, behaved impeccably and very nearly pulled off a win against a man-for-man superior European team playing at home with almost all the fans overtly rooting for them. Pavin a very very good US RCC, in my view, one of the best. Our best one? I'd go for Langer.

  • Comment number 83.

    #82 sagamix
    Spot on about Pavin. As a player at Kiawah he was practically foaming at the mouth but as captain he showed a lot of class.

  • Comment number 84.

    The US Wide Open indeed. And Rory is doing it without all Woods histrionics.

    I am disappointed that the Press seem to be saying that the course if too easy. Tell that to those, apart from Little Mac, who are competing - or should that be NOT competing?

  • Comment number 85.

    Well hell as they say in the States 'Woods' even though he hasn't been there but he has been in the factory of the manufactured.

    As we now say in Britain "who".!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 86.

    Stunned and delighted by McIlroy's performance but I'm posting to congratulate karlwbrown whose post #2 last Wednesday called this result exactly, right down to the margin of victory. Well played sir, that was one hell of a shout.

  • Comment number 87.

    DJ, I second that, he should have had a bet on his prediction because winning by 8- was spot-on.

  • Comment number 88.

    Take a bow karlwbrown #2. Any predictions for the EuroMillions rollover jackpot will be much appreciated. ;)

  • Comment number 89.

    Yes Karl (post 2), that was spooky. Plus I need your address to send the cheque for your share: after his great opening round I remembered your prediction ... thought to myself 'Mmm, you know what?' ... and did a couple of decent transactions.

  • Comment number 90.

    @temporarynamechange - Post 41.

    What was your McIlroy predication again?


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