Five Predictions for 2012 U.S. Open: A Fan's Opinion

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The year's second major will begin on Thursday, June 14. Olympic Golf Club will host the best in the world when the U.S. Open begins. Based on the star-studded field and the difficult golf course, the U.S. Open could be the toughest event of the year. This is one of those events in which anything can happen.

While that makes it a lot of fun to watch, it makes it hard to make predictions. As a golf fan, I'm going to try and make a few guesses anyway.

Here are five bold predictions about the U.S. Open:

Either Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy will miss the cut

Woods and McIlroy figure to generate the most interest among fans at this tournament. Woods is still the biggest superstar in the game, while McIlroy is looking to repeat his historic performance from 2011. While both are talented enough to contend, you have to think that one will flame out. That's just the way that tournaments like this go. Woods has the edge because of his driving accuracy, but McIlroy is due to end his slump. If I had to guess, I'd say that Woods won't be around for the weekend.

Phil Mickelson will fall short again

Phil has been tortured at the U.S. Open in the past. He has played very well but always comes up short because of strange circumstances. Phil has finished in second place an amazing five times at this event and ended up in the top 10 a total of nine times. While many will be rooting for him to get the win, the smart money says that Lefty will come up just a little short once again.

The winner will be a first-time major champion

The last eight majors have been won by golfers with no previous major titles. Odds are that it will happen again. When you look at the contenders, there are only so many past champions that have a realistic chance to win. Meanwhile, the last of non-major winners is impressive. Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Hunter Mahan are just a few of the guys that will contend at the U.S. Open.

No more than two golfers will finish under par

In 2011, Jason Day finished in second place by eight shots despite finishing the tournament at 8-under par. Things will be a lot different in 2012. The daunting scope of Olympic Golf Club will be too tough for anyone to dominate. The narrow fairways and brutal rough should ensure that the final scores resemble those we typically expect from a U.S. Open. I wouldn't expect the winning score to be much better than even par.

Luke Donald will be the winner

The world's No. 1 player has won just about everything outside of a major. He is too solid of a golfer to not win a big one and this could be his time. Donald is a solid driver and an excellent putter. If he can keep himself in the mix after the first two rounds, he is more than capable of making a big move on the weekend. For that reason, he is my pick to win.

* - Mark Paul is an avid golf fan. He has watched and played the game since high school.

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