Philadelphia, PA – PGA TOUR - U.S. OPEN, The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California - The season's second major is upon us and this promises to be one of the most anticipated in recent history.
It's hard to pinpoint one favorite with so many of the game's best peaking.
World No. 1 Luke Donald won a few weeks back at the flagship event on the European Tour, the BMW PGA Championship. He is accurate and has a great short game, which is a recipe for U.S. Open success.
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy set an astonishing 12 different records en route to his victory last year at Congressional. Save for a wet drive at the 72nd hole Sunday at the St. Jude Classic, McIlroy could've ridden to Olympic Club with a ton of momentum.
Lee Westwood won Saturday on the European Tour.
Phil Mickelson has a record five runner-ups in the U.S. Open.
Bubba Watson is coming off his Masters breakthrough.
Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner and Dustin Johnson represent five of the last six winners on the PGA Tour.
The one left out is Tiger Woods.
He captured the Memorial two weeks ago, and the similarities to this week and the Masters week are stunning.
Before Augusta National, Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first tour win post-scandal. With the Memorial two weeks before the U.S. Open, Woods is once again considered the favorite, but all he could manage was a tie for 40th at the Masters, so who knows what we get from him.
Woods shared 18th the last time Olympic Club hosted the U.S. Open back in 1998. Things have changed for sure, but Steve Stricker, Westwood, Stewart Cink and Mickelson all finished in the top 10 14 years ago.
Just to refresh your memory, last year, McIlroy finished at 16-under 268, which set records for lowest score and lowest score in relation to par in U.S. Open history.
McIlroy reached 17-under par, which was a first at the U.S. Open.
He became the youngest winner of this championship since Bobby Jones in 1923.
He is the third player in U.S. Open history to post four rounds in the 60s.
All totaled for the week, McIlroy broke or tied 12 U.S. Open records.
And he won by eight shots.
McIlroy missed three cuts in a row until a tie for seventh last week in Memphis. It was a decent finish, but he was one off the lead on the last hole, rinsed his drive in the water and made double-bogey.
The featured threesomes for the first two rounds have Woods, Mickelson and Watson out early on Thursday and late Friday. On the opposite side of the draw is McIlroy, Donald and Westwood.
Due to logistics, players will go off the first and ninth tees.
ESPN and NBC both have coverage the first two days before NBC takes over, in primetime, on the weekend.
Next week is the Travelers Championship, which was won last year by Fredrik Jacobson.
SAINT-OMER OPEN, Aa Saint Omer Golf Club, Lumbres, France - With the game's best at Olympic Club, the European Tour stages an event opposite the U.S. Open.
Obviously, the field is not very strong.
Matthew Zions cruised to his first European Tour victory, winning by seven shots. He was ranked 512th in the world when he posted his easy win.
This season, Zions has made only four cuts in 11 starts with his best finish a tie for 26th at the Volvo Golf Champions event way back in January.
There is no television coverage for this event.
Next week, the BMW International Open is on tap and last year's winner, Pablo Larrazabal, is expected to defend his title.