With the U.S. Open heading back to the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, all eyes are on one player to see if he can pull off a double repeat. Tiger Woods is heavily favored to win the Open this week, and not only defend last year’s Open title which he won in dramatic fashion at Torrey Pines, but also his 2002 title won right here at Bethpage Black.
Of course Tiger is not the only Nike Golf Athlete in the U.S. Open field this week — here’s the full list of Nike staffers at Bethpage:
PGA Tour: U.S. Open
Bo Van Pelt
Besides Tiger, I feel that a few other of Nike Golf’s Athletes have a shot at the title. Here’s my take on five of them:
Paul has played well this year, especially in marquis events. With wins at The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and The BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour, and The Shell Houston Open on the PGA Tour, as well as a second place finish at the WGC Accenture Match Play, Paul is comfortable playing with the title on the line. Look for him to be high on the leader board on Sunday.
With a recent top 10 finish at the Memorial, Stewart’s confidence is riding high. He had a top 3 finish at this year’s Match Play, and don’t forget his top 3 at the U.S. Open at Southern Hills in 2001 — Stewart is familiar with being in the mix on Sunday at a major tournament. We’ll see if he has enough to take the title this weekend.
Anthony looks to improve on a year that started strong with a T2 at the Mercedes, but that’s been mediocre since. No one can deny Anthony’s ability to produce in the clutch – just look at last year’s wins at the Wachovia and AT&T National, and his performance in the Ryder Cup. I can see AK stepping up this week and making a statement in the spotlight of this major venue.
Justin has been playing consistently well this year. With 3 top 5’s this year and two top 20’s in his last 3 starts, he looks to threaten the big names in the field this week. Although his driving distance may work against him on the 7400+yard layout at Bethpage, look for his accurate iron play and solid putting to keep him in the mix on the weekend.
David’s struggles have been well documented, but I don’t think he’s far from having success again on the PGA Tour, as I said in this blog post back in May. With recent glimmers of success at tour stops like The Valero Texas Open and The Memorial, I don’t think David is far from stringing 4 solid rounds together and contending for a title. I’m not picking him to win this week, but don’t be surprised if you see him in the top 10 when play is completed on Sunday. It’s a dark horse pick, but I feel that he’s due, especially in a major tournament.
However, when all is said and done on Sunday evening, I feel the player that will be standing with the U.S. Open trophy in hand will have successfully defended his title from Bethpage in 2002 and Torrey Pines in 2008. Yep, that guy — and he’ll break par in the rain doing it.