Can the likes of Luke Donald and Lee Westwood repeat the success of messyrs McIlroy and McDowell?
The history books tell us that the last time the US Open was won by three successive Europeans, World War One hadn’t begun and the Titanic was yet to set sail. The year was 1910, the prize money on offer just $300 (£193).
Yet when the European contingent arrives at Olympic Club for the 2012 tournament, they will be fully aware that this year provides the best chance to overturn 102 years of US dominance in their own back yard.
The venue has a much more ‘European’ feel to it than a classic US course such as Congressional, home to last year’s tournament. The fairways are narrow and will require pinpoint accuracy, but the course is not unyielding in length, playing at just over 7,000 yards.
“I could see a short ball hitter winning, a long ball hitter or in between." - Mike Davis
With that, it is not hard to imagine that shorter hitters such as Luke
Donald, or players such as Lee Westwood, who is renowned for hitting
more fairways than anyone in the game, must be relishing the prospect of
ending their major droughts this week.
The key to winning this year’s US Open will be patience. Players who
attack the course too early will struggle, as the front nine is about as
tough as any in the game. However, get through the first part of the
course with your game still intact and chances will appear on the back
nine, with 16, 17 and 18 all offering scoring opportunities.
Having said that, maybe we should be wary of the Americans. Tiger Woods
looks set to roar into action after a win in Ohio last week, and there
is no telling who may come from the middle of the field to be in
contention towards the latter stages. A potential dark horse could be
Steve Stricker, who, at 45, has past experiences to call on when
attempting to beat the Olympic Course.
When asked about a potential winner, USGA Executive Director Mike Davis
commented that “I could see a short ball hitter winning, a long ball
hitter or in between."
Perhaps the only thing we can expect after all is the unexpected.