US Open Preview
It’s hard to imagine a Thursday when the US Open isn’t the first phrase off the lips of sports fans all over the world, but with the World Cup debuting the same day in Brazil, it’s going to take a compelling battle to keep the sports world’s focus centered on Pinehurst, North Carolina all weekend.
Fortunately, the Open has a history of just such battles, fantastic finishes and amazing individual performances. And it’s hardly just the “US” Open – since 2004, the tournament has been won by a South African, a New Zealander, an Australia, an Argentine, three Americans, one Englishman and two Northern Irishmen.
Then of course, there’s Phil Mickelson, who again missed a great shot to win his first US Open in 2013, blowing a late lead as Justin Rose scooped up the trophy instead.
Mickelson finished tied for 11th at last week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic in a warm-up for this week’s event. Having finished second now a record six times, Mickelson is the third-best favorite for Las Vegas oddsmakers at 14-1.
He sits behind a former winner, Rory McIlroy, who is at 10-1 and defending champion Rose, who is at 12-1.
McIlroy hedged his chances by having a two-hour meeting with legend Jack Nickalus two weeks ago at Nickalus’ Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio. Nickalus won the US Open four times, and finished second four more.
McIlroy won the event in 2011.
Mickelson announced he will use the “claw” putting grip for the first time this year at the Open.
It looks like every player might have to contend with some of the wet stuff at Pinehurst. Early forecasts call for a 50% of thunderstorms on Thursday and Friday, with the chance dropping to 40% on Saturday and 30% on Sunday.
High temperatures ranging between 87-90 degrees should make for a steamy day on the links.
Opening tee times on Thursday are at 6:45 a.m. local time. The first group of heavy hitters takes to the back nine at 7:18 a.m. when Sergio Garcia, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker tee off.
Rose, Mickelson and US Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick are on the back nine starting at 7:51 a.m., while young guns Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama hit the back nine at 8:13 a.m.