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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Opening shout for next major

TWO weeks today, the next major – the US Open – will be underway at the magnificent Olympic Club, San Francisco.

Paul Rawlinson
Paul Rawlinson

Over the next two columns, I’ll be taking a look at the contenders and hopefully, by highlighting their strengths and weaknesses, help you pick the winner.

This week, I’ll start with the favourites.

Rory McIlroy: The reigning champion is looking to become the first man to successfully defend his title since Curtis Strange in 1989. His current form suggests this is unlikely, with missed cuts at the Players’ Championship and Wentworth, but two weeks in golf is a long time and enough for him to turn his form around.

Luke Donald: Fresh from reclaiming the world number one spot with a win at Wentworth, Donald is looking for his first major. His form is great, with his last three events sixth, third, win. A great all-round player and tipped several times to win this event, but he has been disappointing with his best finish 12th in 2006 and 45th since then.

Lee Westwood: Can Westwood break the major duck that haunts him? With four top-10 finishes in the US Open and third last year, he could be the man this time around. The narrow, tree-lined fairways of the Olympic Club should suit his consistent straight drives, but the worry is with the putter. Can he hole enough four to six-footers for par that the US Open gives you hole after hole?

Tiger Woods: Tiger is Tiger and will be fully prepared for the US Open. His form is poor – missed cut and 40th in his last two events – his unbeatability and fear factor diminishing and he has only played four rounds at the US Open once in the last four years. With driving causing problems and the stats saying you don’t win a US Open from the rough, Tiger’s chances are not looking great, but can you write him off?

Bubba Watson: The Masters champion has only played once since Augusta, so it’s hard to assess form. His length off the tee will prove a huge advantage if he can keep the ball on the fairway, and the Olympic Club set-up means there will be no more miracle shots from the trees. A US Open record of five starts one top 10 and two missed cuts. My guess is he is more suited to Augusta than a US Open.

Next week I’ll take a look as some of the form players and a couple of outsiders.

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