The 112th U.S. Open Golf Championship will be held at the Olympic Club Lake Course in San Francisco, California beginning on June 14, 2012. As the second major championship of the season it will attract golf's best. There are always contenders for a major championship but are there truly any favorites at the 2012 United States Open?
One popular view is that Tiger Woods is the pre-tournament favorite. Fresh off his 73rd career PGA Tour title at Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament, many consider Woods to be back. I don't want to pour cold water on Tiger's troops but everyone must remember that after winning Arnold Palmer's tournament he was installed as the pre-Masters favorite. If I recall, Bubba Watson hit a great shot to walk away with the title and Tiger Woods was a non factor.
What of the defending U.S. Open champion, Rory McIlroy? McIlroy is a supremely talented young player but as of late his results have been less than stellar. I am sure that he is looking forward to defending his title at the Olympic Club but, given his recent poor play, can we expect him to do so? One never knows in golf but I don't think that I would consider McIlroy to be the pre-tournament favorite at this point.
Jason Dufner was on the greatest hot streak of his career recently. He was poised to win his third tournament in less than one month when his game suddenly left him in the final round and Zach Johnson claimed the title at Colonial. Had Dufner won that tournament to record three victories in quick succession and given his own admission that his game was suited for the Lake Course then I think he would have been the pre-tournament favorite. He still may be, but now there are some lingering doubts about his ability to close a tournament.
Does Phil Mickelson have a chance to finally vanquish his U.S. Open demons? After he nearly posted back-to-back wins earlier this year many would have said yes. However, with his latest effort being a 79 it doesn't look so good for Lefty at this point. Of course I would caution that just when everyone counts out Mickelson or Woods they come back with a big splash. Mickelson and Woods alike live for the majors and I think both will come to play. It is just a question of whether or not they will lift the trophy.
It really is difficult to name some tournament favorites because the field is absolutely wide open. There is no dominant player in golf at this point like Tiger Woods circa 2000 that just overwhelms the field. Any given week can produce a unique champion. Given the run of first time major winners recently, it would not surprise me to add to that list at the Olympic Club. Perhaps Hunter Mahan or Rickie Fowler may break through and win that first major championship. Or it could be a name that few of us know. That is why they tee it up!
Dwight is an avid golfer. While still relatively new to the game, he plays as often as the weather and his schedule will allow.
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