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Preview of the 2012 US Open--What Are
Bubba's, Tiger's, Phil's and Rory's
Chances?

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April 30, 2012
By Michael Williams, Contributing Columnist






After dominating the 2011 US Open with an 8-shot victory, Rory
McIlroy appears ready to defend his title when the tournament shifts to
San Francisco, California and the beautiful Olympic Club. Although the
young golfer from Northern Ireland is considered the prohibitive
favorite, golfers like Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and the always-
dangerous Tiger Woods look to contend as well.

The stunning Lake Course will host this highly anticipated event. Lined
with nearly 40,000 trees and featuring spectacular views of the Golden
Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park, this historic club will provide a
breathtaking setting for the Open.

The top-ranked golfer in the world, according to the 2012 Professional
Golf Association Tour, McIlroy combines his precise short game with
surprising power from the tees. In 2012, he is virtually equal with
Woods in average yards per drive, and his top-five save percentage
allows him to keep pars from becoming bogeys. This was obvious
during his win at the 2012 Honda Classic, where the 22-year old
Irishman would get up and down 20 of 24 times, holding off a charging
Tiger to take the championship with a 12-under score of 268.

Woods, for his part, seems to be frantically struggling to regain the
form that once made him the most-feared golfer of this generation. His
driving distance is down; his iron play can be erratic and his putting
often leaves him talking to himself…or swearing under his breath.
Even with his troubles, it is impossible to dismiss Tiger as a threat to
win in San Francisco. He is still a dangerous golfer, and has moments of
utter greatness. His following is always the biggest, and other players
still watch the leader board for a classic run by Woods.































Another threat to win this year’s US Open is Phil Mickelson. While one
of the older players still competing at an elite level, Mickelson shows no
signs of slowing down. Combining a top-10 save percentage and a
deadly putter with his renowned fearless streak, Phil puts pressure on
the leaders, no matter how far behind he is.

An amazing charge at this year’s Masters displayed Mickelson at both
his best and worst. After storming back from a poor opening round,
Phil played tremendous golf to put himself in contention on Sunday.
After missing on a daring drive, a disastrous triple bogey on the fourth
hole effectively ended his chances of taking his fourth Masters title.
Currently third on the earnings list, Mickelson can be considered a
prime challenger to unseat McIlroy as US Open champion. If he can
stay out of the trees and let his short game shine, Phil could once again
be playing in the final pairing on Sunday.

Capitalizing on Mickelson’s troubles at Augusta to grab his first green
jacket, Bubba Watson is another big money-winner who figures to
make some noise at the Olympic Club. The longest hitter on the tour
this year according to ESPN, the big left-hander used his $1.44 million
payday at Augusta to push his earnings for the year well over $3
million, giving him the lead over Hunter Mahan and Mickelson.
Not only is Watson the Tour’s leading money-winner, he is the 4th-
rated player as well, trailing only McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee
Westwood. He also stands as the top American player in the game
today, according to PGA Tour stats. Given that the courses are usually
set up to favor big hitters, Watson is a very real threat to pick up his
second major at the Olympic Club.

While choosing a winner in a PGA Tour event can be tough,
handicapping the field for the 2012 US Open is most likely to come
down to one of a select few golfers. Bubba Watson’s booming drives
may be enough to power him to victory, although the swashbuckling
Phil Mickelson or a resurgent Tiger Woods may seize the moment and
take the victory. Whoever hopes to be the newest champ will have to
overcome Rory McIlroy as he defends his title at the spectacular
Olympic Club in beautiful San Francisco, California.

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