Tuesday, June 12, 2012

3Jack Golf's Favored Players For the US Open


As a teenager, my dream was to one day win the US Open. While most golfers grow up wanting to win the Masters, to me the US Open was the real deal. Not only is it our country’s championship, but I just felt that if you could win the US Open, you were the ‘baddest golfer on the planet.’

I started to formulate this back in 1992, when I saw Dr. Gil Morgan dominate a field at Pebble Beach, only to lose the lead immediately after a few offline shots. It’s not that I think every tournament should be a US Open style. In reality, once a year is probably good enough. But if you can win the US Open, you have some incredibly thick skin to deal with the ups and downs of that style of setup.

This was also the tournament where I became a major fan of Payne Stewart. No, not the ’99 win at Pinehurst. Instead, the 2nd place finish in ’98 at…The Olympic Club.

On the back nine in the last round Stewart found the fairway, but wound up in a divot. While it was a cruel fate, he still had a make green in regulation. I remember the NBC announcers were embarrassing to listen to, acting like Stewart should get a free lift from the spot. The fact of the matter was that Stewart hit a poor shot that wound up in the greenside bunker because it was a poor shot, not because it was a bad lie.

Afterward, the NBC announce team tried to convey the point that Stewart was ‘robbed’, but Payne put that nonsense to rest and quickly stated ‘I did not play well enough to win this tournament’, and left it at that. And as true champions do, he came back to win the US Open the following year at Pinehurst.

While I was glad that Rory won the US Open last year, after a crushing blown lead at the Masters 2 months before, I despised the way the course was setup. Another gaffe by the USGA. You know it’s pretty bad when you see far thicker rough at the Wegman’s LPGA Championship this past weekend than what we saw at Congressional for the US Open last year. My guess is that the US Open will be ‘back’ at Olympic Club this year.

Here’s a look at ’15 golfers I like’ at the US Open.


Weaknesses: Not a particularly long hitter (t-113th) and may be still coming off the ‘hangover’ from the win at the Player’s Championship.

Strengths: Very strong ballstriker, ranking 16th from the Safe Zone and 14th from the Danger Zone. Hasn’t putted as well as he has in the past, but it still 9th in 3-putt avoidance in a tournament where you have to do what you can to avoid bogeys


Weaknesses: Driving Accuracy has really hurt his 2012 season, as he’s currently 125th in fairway percentage and 112th in Distance to Edge of the Fairway. His driver has been shaky all season long.

Strengths: He would be having another great season if he could get his driving fixed. He’s 17th from the Safe Zone, 12th from the Danger Zone and 39th in 3-putt avoidance.


Weaknesses: He’s currently ranked 179th in Short Game play, so when he misses a green he puts himself in tough position to get up and in. He’s also been inconsistent and had some struggles on opening rounds, sometimes taking himself out of contention immediately.

Strengths: How good is this? 15th in Advanced Total Driving, 18th from the Birdie Zone, 7th from the Safe Zone and 4th from the Danger Zone. He has never been a good putter. He currently ranks 74th in Putts Gained, but that’s a massive dip from just a month ago where he ranked 1st


Weaknesses: He’s had issues with 1 part of his game hamstringing him in tournaments. I think he is also still learning his swing with relation to some of the mishaps that can happen and that slows his ability to correct them in the tournament. I also think he tends to press too much when some of his shots do not go his way. Plus, he’s Tiger. Whatever he shoots will be plastered and questioned repeatedly.

Strengths: I think his current game will be geared more to win the US Open than the Masters because his accuracy and precision has improved by multifold and he’s now one of the premier, if not THE premier, ‘long, but not a bomber’ who hits it with extreme accuracy and precision. And he’s recently improved his Birdie Zone ranking, now ranking 63rd in the category. It’s really a question if he can put it all together


Weaknesses: Not the greatest putter in the world (142nd in Putts Gained), but not the worst either (60th in 3-putt avoidance). Birdie Zone gives him trouble (147th) as well as his short game play (167th).

Strengths: Get him outside of 125 yards and he may be the best in the world. 19th in Advanced Total Driving, 46th from the Safe Zone and 25th from the Danger Zone. He also had the lead midway thru the 3rd round of last year’s PGA at Atlanta


Weaknesses: Putting. Currently ranked 116th in Putts Gained and was ranked 150th just a month ago in the category. Very much a roller coaster player.

Strengths: He’s been on fire lately and despite his putting woes, he does a decent job at avoiding 3-putts (87th). Has struck the ball extremely well, which includes ranking 15th in Advanced Total Driving and 41st from the Danger Zone. He also has that first victory under his belt, which should make him feel a little more comfortable going into the Olympic Club


Weaknesses: Putting and wedges. 123rd in Putts Gained and 121st in 3-putt avoidance. 131st from the Birdie Zone. Has not logged in a lot of rounds recently.

Strengths: Strikes the ball extremely well from the longer distances. He’s 22nd in Adv. Total Driving, 21st from the Safe Zone and 6th from the Birdie Zone. He’s also 10th in Short Game play


Weaknesses: Inconsistent with his long approaches. Ranks 93rd from the Danger Zone and has usually been all over the place in this zone, some weeks doing really well, other weeks playing poorly from that distance. He’s also poor around the green, ranking 141st in Short Game play. So the long distance approach shots may cause him some real problems. Putter has also cooled off as of late.

Strengths: Great driver (9th) and a real good Safe Zone player (24th). Typically, the Safe Zone is where the most approach shots come from. So, if he can continually get it inside the Safe Zone on the 7,170 yard Olympic Course, he could be difficult to beat. And while his Putts Gained ranking is rather average, he is 34th in 3-putt Avoidance


Weaknesses: May not have the mentality for it. After the Masters he claimed that he would never win a major and didn’t seem too convincing in an interview yesterday. Still has the attitude that he is the only one that gets bad breaks and that good putts do not fall for him. Not as good of a driver as many think, currently ranking 86th in Advanced Total Driving.

Strengths: His real standout metric is his 3-putt avoidance. Despite his complaints about his putting, he’s 3rd in 3-putt Avoidance. He’s also great from the Birdie Zone (11th) and very good from the Danger Zone (54th)


Weaknesses: Might be at that stage in his life where he’s looking to comfortably keep his Tour Card, but doesn’t have enough gas in the tank to really contend in a Major. Putting is much better (69th in putts gained), but may still be shaky under the highest competitive level of golf.

Strengths: Solid, all-around game. 51st in Adv. Total Driving, 71st in Short Game play, 77th in the Safe Zone and 61st from the Danger Zone.


Weaknesses: Suspect putter, ranking 95th in Putts Gained and 141st in 3-putt Avoidance. Even though he has gotten 2 wins in the past month or so, still seems shaky with the lead.

Strengths: Great ballstriker. 2nd in Adv. Total Driving, 26th in the Birdie Zone, 9th in the Safe Zone and 17th in the Danger Zone. He’s also 5th in Short Game play. Meaning, he hits a lot of fairways and greens and when he does miss a green, he can get up and down quite often. Did lead the PGA Championship last year until the 15th hole


Weaknesses: May be suffering from a Masters ‘hangover.’ His putting has been atrocious (166th in Putts Gained), but he’s been respectable with his 3-putts (106th). Some of his rankings in the metrics may not be as good as they appear since he has not logged many rounds since the Masters. His wildness off the tee, may not suit the US Open.

Strengths: Bubba plays a different game from the other bombers and is unafraid to take out the driver on every non-par 3 if he feels like it. Many times this works in his favor because he adds so much distance by hitting driver that even if he finds the thick rough, he can find a way to get out of it. Where Bubba has really stepped up his game is in the Danger Zone (2nd) and around the green (14th). You can start to see why he’s so effective here. He typically avoids Danger Zone shots because of his length, but if he finds himself there, it usually means the rest of the field will be there as well. And it doesn’t matter because he’s 2nd in Danger Zone play anyway. And if he misses the green, his adept short game will lead him to getting up and in


Weaknesses: He’s coming off an injury plagued season and had to play in the FedEx to get some rounds in. So the turnaround time may be a little too much for him. He’s putting much better this year, but still struggling with the Short Game (170th).

Strengths: He’s developing a solid all-around game and is putting quite well (50th in Putts Gained). If he had putted that well last year, he may have won 2 majors. He’s also ‘been there, done that’ before with being in contention at a Major more than once before


Weaknesses: Weird putter in that he’s ranked 37th in Putts Gained, but 126th in 3-putt avoidance. Has also struggled from the Birdie Zone this year (162nd) and is a very average at best ballstriker.

Strengths: He’s normally a great putter, so that may curb the 3-putts sooner or later. He’s also 26th from the Danger Zone and 65th in Short Game Play.


Weaknesses: Inexperienced rookie.

Strengths: Drives the ball well (42nd) and is ranked 44th from the Danger Zone. His putting has been poor, ranking 150th in Putts Gained. But, he’s 80th in 3-putt avoidance. I could see him creeping into contention and finishing inside the top-20.


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