This week before the U.S. Open tees off, we'll be sizing up the chances of many of golf's top players. We continue with one of those guys playing the best golf right now.
Current world ranking: 4
So far this year: At this point in his career, it's a pretty ho-hum 2011. No missed cuts, eight top 25s, four top 10s and a win at the Memorial, and obviously "ho-hum" for Stricker means ridiculously consistent. The guy torched Muirfield, and will be heading into Congressional with winning on his mind.
Record at the U.S. Open: A pretty (get ready to be surprised!) consistent showing at the U.S. Open for Stricker, who has only missed two cuts in his career at this event and has three top 6s, with the last coming in '06. He has finished 29th or better over the last four years at America's championship.
Why he could win: Because the dude putts the ball as well as anybody on tour, and at an event like this, it's the flatstick that saves you. Stricker has learned to win since turning 40, and for an experienced guy that seems to really keep playing well when he finds his game, the Memorial was a huge boost heading into this week.
Why he could fall short: Because just like a ton of people, he's never won a major, and as we've seen, winning majors are hard, hard business. Stricker does tend to get nervous when holding a big lead, and at an event as big as the U.S. Open, we could see the swing get really, really loose. Also, it doesn't help that Stricker is ranked 133rd in driving distance, something that will be extremely helpful at the extended Congressional.
Our take: We see a solid week for Stricker, with another top 5, but it just seems too unlikely that he can hold it together for 72 holes. I do think that if you had to pick an American to win this thing, Stricker has to be on the top two of your list, just because he's playing so well right now and masters the parts of the golf game that are needed to win the U.S. Open.
Your turn, folks. Could Stricker add to his legacy with a major win?