Mickelson’s time to shine?
The main contenders have been preparing for the 114th US Open, which tees off on Thursday at a tweaked Pinehurst No.2.
The second major of the year is upon us and with Tiger Woods still recovering from back surgery, the title race is wide open. With a great win at the Masters, Bubba Watson certainly threw his name into the hat, though his high-risk game might not come off at Pinehurst.
Course designers finished their restoration of the No. 2 course in 2011, much of which involved replacing the rough with local wire grass and sand. The change means that there are dire consequences for missing the fairway and even the top players will more than likely only be able to attack the green from the fairways.
Tournament favourite Rory McIlroy confirmed this viewpoint, as he recently revealed that he will be adopting a conservative game plan at the 7,565 yard course, which is designed to coax players into taking a risk. The Northern Irishmen has had a difficult month after he split with fiancé Caroline Wozniacki just months before his wedding. But he bounced back with a stunning win at the BMW PGA Championship, where he came from seven strokes back in the final round.
World number one Adam Scott will be looking to win his second major. The Australian has had a remarkably consistent year and has three top five finishes in his last five events, including a win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. The 33-year-old will certainly be in the mix at Pinehurst.
Meanwhile, flying under the radar is defending champion Justin Rose. While you will have to go back to 1989 to find a golfer that defended his US open title, the Englishman is quietly confident coming off the back of a tied fourth finish at the Players Championship.
Jordan Spieth’s escapades at the Masters, where he finished tied for second with a resurgent Jonas Blixt, have seen the American emerge amongst the top contenders as well. With six top ten finishes this year he will be confident of winning his first Major.
Despite still searching for his first win of the year, one can never leave Phil Mickelson out of the favourites in the US Open. The lefty is always a force to be reckoned with, having been runner-up on six occasions. However, the 43-year-old is currently under investigation for insider trading by the FBI, which could affect his game.
But with the odds being stacked against him, these factors could create the perfect storm for Mickelson.
“I think it would be an incredible story but I tend to do well when the least is expected,” quipped the five time major winner, indicating that he is unfazed by the negative attention.
That said, the time may be right for Mickelson to grab that fourth major and enter his name in the record books as the fifth player to complete the Grand Slam.
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