2011 US Open Preview
Professional golf’s second Major of the 2011 season gets underway this Thursday with the first round of the US Open at Congressional Country Club, which is just outside our Nation’s Capital in Bethesda, Maryland. This tournament is often considered the most stringent test of golf the pros will face all season long as the USGA, which runs this event, is notorious for brutal course setups that feature tight fairways surrounded by deep rough and lightning-fast greens.
The following is a brief look at some of the top contenders for this year’s tournament along with their current odds to win this week as provided by Bodog.com.
Over the past number of years it was a given to see Tiger Woods opened as the odds-on-favorite to win the US Open, but with him out of the tournament this season due to a leg injury, that honor goes to Lee Westwood at 11/1. Westwood is currently ranked No.2 in the world and would easily be considered one of the best, if not the best golfer never to have won a Major. He plays primarily on the European Tour as he hails from England, but has played in six US events so far this year. Westwood finished 11th in both the Masters in April and the St. Jude Classic this past week. His best finish in a US Open was third in 2008 at Torrey Pines.
Paired with Westwood for the first two rounds is the No. 1 ranked player in the world at 12/1, Luke Donald. This Englishman also plays primarily on the European Tour but has played in nine events in the U.S. this season and has a victory in the Accenture Match Play Championship to his credit. He also finished fourth in this year’s Masters and Players Championship and was second in The Heritage. His best career finish in a US Open was a tie for 12th at Winged Foot in 2006.
The third favorite to win at Congressional is Phil Mickelson at 14/1. He is currently ranked fifth in the world and eighth on the PGA Tour’s money list. He won the Shell Houston Open earlier this year, but could only manage a 27th-place finish in the Masters and a 33rd-place finish in the Players Championship. Mickelson is always a threat when a Major rolls around but has yet to add a US Open title to his list of achievements. He does have five second-place finishes to his credit with the last coming in 2009 at Bethpage.
The odds get interesting from here starting with Rory McIlroy as the fourth favorite at 16/1. For the first three rounds of this year’s Masters, the 21-year old from Northern Ireland was in the lead and in complete control, but a tragic meltdown on the second nine of the final round cost him his chance at his first Major.
Rounding out Westwood and Donald’s threesome for the first two rounds is the third-ranked player in the world, Martin Kaymer. The German broke onto the scene with a victory in last year’s PGA Championship to notch his first Major. He lost to Donald in the finals of the Accenture Match Play Championship, but failed to make the cut at the Masters and finished 19th in the Players Championship. His current form has driven his odds down to 25/1 to win this week.
Finally, there is last year’s US Open winner at Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell. Another product of Northern Ireland, he is currently listed at 45/1 to repeat as champion this year, which is somewhat understood given the fact that the last time someone won back-to-back US Open titles was Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989. McDowell is seventh in the world but he has missed the cut in three of his last five U.S. events including the Masters and finished 33rd in the Players Championship.
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