Looking at the Contenders for the Final Round of the US Open
Phil Mickelson (-1, 3:20 pm tee time) Is this finally the year for Lefty to win the US Open? The five-time runner-up has looked good all week, and comes into today the only player under par. However, he's been here before many times and hasn't gotten it done in that final round. At age 43, this could be Phil's last good chance to win the Open, and he probably knows it. Make no mistake, today is almost all about Mickelson and his attempt to conquer his white whale.
Hunter Mahan (Even, 3:20) Mahan is considered one of the best young players in golf, but it's noted that he has yet to finish in the top five in a major. He's been going in the right direction this week, opening with a 72 followed by back-to-back 69s. Mahan is a solid player and can definitely be the last man standing at the end of the day.
Charl Schwartzel (Even, 3:09) While it's a talented field in contention, Schwartzel is the only player other than Mickelson with a major championship, the 2011 Masters. That's Schwartzel's only win in the United States, but no one would be surprised if he made it two. One thing to consider is how he starts, especially after he ended yesterday bogey-bogey.
Steve Stricker (Even, 3:09) Stricker is a part-time player now at age 46, but he's still one of the best putter on the tour. My guess is he's been helped by the short yardage of Merion. If he can get it on the green in regulation, Stricker could roll the rock to the title.
Justin Rose (+1, 2:58) Rose is the highest ranked player in the world in contention at #5, but hasn't won a title in over a year. This is one of the best shots he's had of taking a major title, and he needs to take it or at least come close.
Luke Donald (+1, 2:58) Change #5 ranking to #6 and you have Donald. He has never contended at the US Open before, with his best finish being tied for 12th.
Billy Horschel (+1, 2:47) Horschel is the unknown in this group, but he does have a win this year on the PGA Tour at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. This is only his second major start ever. It's unlikely Horschel can beat all these top guys, but I doubt he'll fold completely. Yesterday he was in the final group with Mickelson and shot a respectible 72.
Jason Day (+2, 2:47) Once again, Day is in contention at a major. In the last two years, Day has finished 2nd and 3rd at the Masters and 2nd at the US Open. He's been knocking on the door of a major win, and even starting three shots back, it could very well be Day's day.
Rickie Fowler (+3, 2:36) Fowler's best US Open finish is tied for 41st, but he got into contention with a third round 67. He's capable of going low, and if he does it again, he can swoop in, take the title, and fufill all that promise.
Michael Kim (+4, 2:36) Kim is a 19 year old amateur who currently plays college golf at Cal. Everything was rolling really well for him until the final three holes yesterday, when we went bogey-double bogey-bogey to finish. If he can regroup today, he can still get a good finish.
Rory McIlroy (+8 thru 4) and Tiger Woods (+13 thru 9) A 75 and 76 respecitvely on Saturday put the top two players in the world out of contention for good. Realistically though, neither will ever really in it. Let the consternation and hand-wringing begin.
With the players set, it's now time to watch and see who will come out of Merion the survivor and win the US Open.