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Top 10 Things to Know About the 2012 U.S. Open Championship

Yahoo Contributor Network

In the third week of June 2012, many of the best golfers from around the world will play in the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

You may be wondering, "What is the U.S. Open and why does it matter?"

A review of the following top 10 things to know will help you be ready so you can enjoy the tournament:

What: The U.S. Open is the national championship of men's golf in the United States, "open" to both professionals and amateurs, and has been held since 1895.

When: The 2012 Championship will begin Thursday, June 14, with 18 holes played on four consecutive days, ending on Sunday, June 17.

Where: The Olympic Club, in San Francisco, is hosting the U.S. Open for the fifth time on their Lake Course. The Championship was also held there in 1955, '66, '87, and most recently in 1998.

Importance: The U.S. Open is the second of golf's four major championships on the annual calendar, following the Masters in April, and played before the [British] Open in July and PGA Championship in August.

Who: The championship is "open" to both professionals and amateurs. Some players receive automatic entry based on past performances (recent champions of golf's four majors, as well as the U.S. and British Amateur championships, for example), while others gain entry through local and then sectional qualifying events to complete a field of 156 players.

History: The U.S. Open has been played every year since its inception in 1895, except for the war years of 1917-18 and 1942-45. From its humble beginnings (only 11 players in 1895), the tournament has become one of professional golf's four major championships, with more than 8,000 players entering qualifying events in 2011.

The Trophy: The U.S. Open Championship Trophy is a large silver jug with two handles. There is a winged female figure on the top. The names of the champions are engraved on the trophy, which is permanently kept at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J. The annual Champion gains custody for one year of a full-scale replica.

The Olympic Club: America's oldest athletic club, established in 1860, The Olympic Club members compete in 19 sports. The Lake Course, hosting its fifth U.S. Open, was designed in 1924, with redesign work following storm damage in 1927. The course's narrow, tree-lined fairways and small, well-bunkered greens provide a challenge to even the most skilled professionals.

Players to Watch: The top 50 golfers in the world, according to the official world golf rankings, will all be playing in the 2012 U.S. Open. This includes the current #1- and #2-ranked players, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy; the 2012 Masters champion, Bubba Watson; and the second winningest player in PGA Tour history, Tiger Woods, in pursuit of his fourth U.S. Open Championship.

Prediction: Unlike the 2011 Championship, where Rory McIlroy finished 16-under par at Congressional Country Club, the players will find it very difficult to break par at The Olympic Club. In four previous U.S. Opens held at the Lake Course, Scott Simpson has the low score, 3-under par to win in 1987. In fact, only four players total (Simpson, Billy Casper, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson) have ever finished under-par in a U.S. Open at The Olympic Club.

The 2012 champion will be the player best able to overcome adversity, recovering both from the trees lining the narrow fairways and the many bunkers protecting the Lake Course's small greens. It should be a very exciting event to watch, with a deserving winner eventually hoisting the U.S. Open Championship Trophy on Sunday, June 17, 2012.

Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.


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