Winner:Phil Mickelson. Most were convinced at the Masters that Phil would be the favorite at Pebble Beach, but I go back to when he won late last year in China over a great field. That was when it was clear that Lefty was both my Masters and U.S. Open pick. He even showed the perfect pre-U.S. Open form playing very well at Memorial. Look out, Pebble!
Sleeper:Jason Gore. Gore has some U.S. Open success, and he will be playing on the course where he won the 1997 California State Amateur. He knows Pebble Beach in its summer months, unlike most players that made the trip to the peninsula. What a sleeper it would be.
Winner:Lee Westwood. I know it’s difficult to win in back-to-back weeks, but this has been the guy I had in mind for Pebble for a long time, and we can’t bail now. Winning in Memphis will give him an extra little shot of confidence, and his consistency at majors (top 3 in his last three starts) and penchant for getting into the hunt has got to pay off sometime.
Sleeper:Ian Poulter. Hey, the World Cup is going on, so I’m going all-England here and waving the Union Jack in the Pacific breeze by taking Poulter. Another guy who is starting to hang around on Sundays at more and more majors and a good choice on a golf course where par is a great score. He battles, and the U.S. Open is a place where grit is rewarded.
Winner:Jim Furyk. Length is not an overriding concern at Pebble, which is good, because it’s the only component he doesn’t possess. With two wins and four top 10s, he’s been in good form all year.
Sleeper:Mike Weir. He’s tumbled to 67th in the world rankings and hasn’t won since 2007. But he plays tough courses well and has been in the top 10 seven times at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
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Site: Pebble Beach, Calif.
Courses: Pebble Beach Golf Links (7,040 yards, par 71)
Winner:Geoff Ogilvy. He is one of those guys (Lee Janzen, Andy North, Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal, Greg Norman) who seems destined to win the same major twice while hitting the proverbial wall in all other majors.
Sleeper:Ricky Barnes. All of us should root for a player who bounces back from the brink of extinction (OK, that’s a little harsh). Barnes is a solid choice on a tough course where birdies are scarce and scores are high. He grabbed a substantial lead in the 2009 U.S. Open and clearly has learned a lesson (just look at how well he is playing in 2010) from his subsequent collapse.
Winner:Tiger Woods is going to win the U.S. Open. There, I said it. Now excuse me while I bang my head against the trunk of a cypress tree.
Sleeper:Tim Clark. Played Pebble Beach in 6 under during the AT&T in February. Second on Tour in driving accuracy, third on Tour in putting accuracy. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the mix Sunday afternoon.
Winner:Lee Westwood. It’s hard to bet against Westwood for several reasons. First, he’s finished 3-3-2 in the past three majors. Also, he’s No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, and the only player ahead of him isn’t exactly in peak form. Westwood tied for fifth in the 2000 U.S. Open, a measly 17 shots behind the winner.
Sleeper:Ricky Barnes. He surprised us all when he made his run at last year’s Open in the middle of his rookie season on Tour. But Barnes, the former U.S. Amateur champion, seems to be comfortable with Tour life in his second season. He’s made 13 of 16 cuts, with five top 10s, including a T-10 at the Masters and top-10s in his past two starts. Barnes’ instructor, Dean Reinmuth, said his student loves the big stage, which explains the consecutive top 10s in majors; I expect a third. Barnes, a Northern California native, shot 80-73 in the 2000 Open, but we’ll cut him some slack. He was a 19-year-old amateur at the time.
The U.S. Open field based on the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index: