On the condition of anonymity, a PGA Tour pro ranks his top 10 to win the U.S. Open. Check out his picks and then cast your own ballot.
10. GEOFF OGILVY
World Rank: 8th
Can you imagine what a life-changing year 2006 was for Geoff? First, he wins the U.S. Open, and then he becomes a first-time father. He didn't play a lot for the rest of that yearhe deserved a break. To be honest, he hasn't looked like an Open champion this year....He ranks 123rd in fairways hit and 137th in GIR. That's not good. Missing fairways and greens is a great way to miss the cut at Oakmont.
Will the real Geoff Ogilvy please stand up? I don't see a repeat.
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2. RETIEF GOOSEN
World Rank: 10th
What ever happened to the Goose? It was only two years ago that he had the lead on Saturday at Pinehurst and everyone was conceding him the Open. Then he had a meltdown and hasn't played quite as well since....Goose tied for second at the Masters and barely got noticed....At his best, he has power and is steady and consistent. He's also a deceptively good putter.
I wonder if a guy could win three U.S. Opens and still go unnoticed? If anyone can do it, it's Goose.
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3. PHIL MICKELSON
World Rank: 2nd
I'm going to assume that Phil's left wrist will be O.K. by next week....What he has going for him is Butch Harmon. Phil is going to be better able to keep the ball in play, thanks to Butch....Phil will probably throw a 64-degree wedge in his bag for the rough, which I think will be old-style Open roughdeep as heck, even around the greens.
Why Phil has a great chance to win: Oakmont has no trees on the 18thor any otherhole.
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4. TIGER WOODS
World Rank: 1st
Is Tiger's finish in the Open contingent on how well he drives the ball? Partially. If Jeff Maggert or Fred Funk drives it poorly, neither has a chance. Even if Tiger sprays a few, he may still contend. Yet the rough will be so penal that not even Superman could muscle shots onto the green....Par is 70 at Oakmont, and Tiger has had a tougher time on par-70s. If the par-4 17th is drivable, that's an edge.
If he hits the fairway and not the block, he's going to be a lock.
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5. PADRAIG HARRINGTON
World Rank: 11th
Padraig is perfect for the U.S. Open because he's steady and he's slow. He's the one guy who won't be put off by the six-hour rounds. They're right up his alley....Paddy is an analytical guy. He's smart and will try to dissect the course....He's coming off a highwinning the Irish Open was huge for an Irishman, comparable to winning the U.S. Open.
I'm not totally convinced Paddy can win the Open, but he can put himself in position on Sunday and then, who knows?
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6. ZACH JOHNSON
World Rank: 13th
Zach could be the 2007 version of Loren Roberts at Oakmont in '94: He puts the ball in play off the tee and is a great putter. To win at Augusta and then come back and do it again in Atlanta is awfully impressive....His game isn't spectacular. He hits nothing but draws and hits it kind of low. That shouldn't work at Augusta, but it did. It doesn't sound like a formula for success at Oakmont, either, but I wouldn't count him out....Zach's biggest asset is his confidence.
He's hot and is riding one dang big wave of success. He thinks he can win every week, and you know what? Maybe he can.
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7. ERNIE ELS
World Rank: 5th
My biggest concern about Ernie is whether he's comfortable with his new equipment. He made a big switch this year, and it takes time to adjust. I've had issues with equipment changes and speak from experience. Sometimes it doesn't work out....I like the fact that he's putting like young Ernie again. When he won at Oakmont in '94, he pretty much ran the table.
To get back to where he wants to be, Ernie has to win another major. I think he's got it in him.
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8. STEVE STRICKER
World Rank: 20th
People forget how good he was for a stretch in the '90s. Steve is a phenomenal putter and great around the greens (he's first on Tour in scrambling), but he went through a prolonged driver slump before turning things around in '06....He's had four top 10 finishes this year and has played well nearly every week....Steve is probably already making plans to go deer hunting, so winning the Open would really screw up his year.
Steve is an under-the-radar type, the kind who often wins the Open.
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9. RORY SABBATINI
World Rank: 14th
Let me tell you why Rory was voted the least-liked guy to play with on Tour in SI's survey: He's the new Howard Cosell. He likes to comment on his own shotsand on your shots too. It's annoying. You just made double, and he's saying, "I can't believe that putt didn't go in."...Does anybody fit the U.S. Open champion profile less than this guy? He shoots at every pin, and that'll backfire at Oakmont.
Rory would be the most exciting Open champ ever. There's no telling what he'd say on Letterman.
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AND THE WINNER IS...
1. JIM FURYK
World Rank: 3rd
I'm high on Furyk and have been for a while. I picked him to win the Players too, but why not? Here's a profound quote: The guy's just good....Sure, Oakmont has some long holesO.K., a lot of long holesbut it will not be a bomber's course. It's the U.S. Open, and the name of the game is controlling your ball off the tee and into the green, and no one does that better than Jim. (Remember Olympia Fields in '03?)....He's one of the best clutch putters. Maybe Tiger and Phil top him around the greens, but I can't think of anyone else better than Jim....He nearly won at Colonial, so I think he's peaking.
When the toughest course hosts the toughest tournament, the player who's mentally the toughest wins. That' s Furyk.
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