The 2013 US Open is Tiger Woods' to lose. I believe that because Vegas tells me (his odds are 9-2) and because I watch golf and Tiger Woods has done both of the following things:
1. Won more majors than any other golfer in this year's US Open field.
2. Won more golf tournaments in 2013 than any other golfer in this year's US Open field.
He is both the most historically significant and currently relevant golfer in the 156-man field this week at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
And sure, you can say Woods hasn't won a major in five years or he played horribly at the Memorial, but the truth is both you and I know that neither of those things will matter when Woods tees it up with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott on Thursday.
This golfing world of ours is swung at a different centrifugal force when Woods is at its center. He is the man through which all majors run (despite his 19 -- and counting -- drought) and this week at Merion will be no different.
Tiger fans should take heart, too, because all signs point to Tiger winning No. 15 later on this week in Pennsylvania.
For one, he should have won or been extremely close to winning the Masters (four-shot swings be damned). He has also been driving the ball beautifully of late, and not merely with his driver.
Woods hit 67 percent of his fairways at the Players Championship and 82 percent (!) at Muirfield Village at the Memorial. If he even approaches that 82 percent number at Merion, he'll gallop away with the title.
There are plenty of others who will challenge him, though. Here are my 20 most likely golfers to win the 2013 US Open:
|1||It always feels like the majors are Tiger Woods' to lose, which he's been doing a lot of lately. Eight top-sixes at majors since his win in 2008, but no wins. Odds: 9-2|
|2||Phil Mickelson finally getting his US Open would be the golf story of the year for me. Feels like he has two or three more legitimate shots at this thing. Odds: 20-1|
|3||Everybody and their mother (because all mothers like him) is picking Matt Kuchar this week. That scares me because, you know, the guy we all want to win never wins. Odds: 20-1|
|4||I know, I know. It's a fool's errand to give Lee Westwood love in these lists at majors but I just can't help it. He's had two top-three finishes in the last five years at this tournament. Odds: 28-1|
|5||Graeme McDowell certainly knows how to compete in US Opens. His last three years have been win, T14, T2. He's not a sexy pick but seems like a safe bet to be in it on the weekend. Odds: 22-1|
|6||Justin Rose burned me at Augusta when I picked him so I can't do it again. As my man Cullen Carstens pointed out on our podcast last week, though, Rose leads the tour in greens in regulation from 200-plus yards. There are three par 3s at 200-plus yards and a 521-yard par-4 this year. Odds: 25-1|
|7||Brandt Snedeker has three top-11s in his last four appearances at the US Open. I'll just ignore the fact that he's missed his last two cuts on tour (hey, Webb Simpson did the same last year and that worked out OK!) Odds: 28-1|
|8||I don't really know what to do with Rory McIlroy. Would I be surprised if he won this thing by five strokes? Maybe a little, but not really. Would I be surprised if he missed the cut? No. He's Baby Phil at this point. Odds: 20-1|
|9||I have no idea if Dustin Johnson is still reeling from that 82 he shot on the final day at Pebble Beach in 2010 but I do think he can win in Merion. One of my qualifiers is finding guys who can score a ton and DJ averages four birdies a round. Odds: 40-1|
|10||Only one golfer (Padraig Harrington) has gone back-to-back at majors since Phil Mickelson did it at the 2005 PGA Championship and 2006 Masters. Do we really think Adam Scott will become the second? Odds: 20-1|
|11||Wait, why is Louis Oosthuizen a 50-1 longshot to win the U.S. Open? I have no idea. The sweet-swinging South African has only played this event three times but already has a top-10. Definitely has the game to get it done. Odds: 50-1|
Rickie Fowler went 4-0 in the 2009 Walker Cup at Merion. I know the US Open isn't match play but that has to mean something. Plus, I want a reason to post this all weekend:
|14||The last man to repeat at the US Open was Curtis Strange in 1989 so I don't give Webb Simpson much of a chance to do it this year. Still, he's one of the few guys who knows what it takes on the back nine on Sunday (shot a clean 1-under 35 coming in last year to take the trophy). Odds: 40-1|
|15||Jason Day has kind of gone underground since his spectacular performance at Augusta but he's no stranger to competing for US Open titles. He finished second to Rory McIlroy in 2011 -- one of his only three appearances at the tournament. Odds: 40-1|
|16||All I have to say about Luke Donald: he's never finished in the top-10 at the US Open in his career. Odds: 33-1|
|17||My darkhorse, Henrik Stenson. The Swede is first in driving accuracy and third in greens in regulation -- it seems as if those are two pretty pertinent statistical evaulations for an Open champ. Odds: 66-1|
|18||Let's go back to the Dustin Johnson scoring corollary. Billy Horschel is second on tour at 4.57 birdies per round. This will serve him well at Merion. Odds: 66-1|
|19||It seems to me there are two ways to win a US Open. Either make mistakes and cover them up with birdies or don't make mistakes. Bill Haas is ranked No. 4 on tour in bogey avoidance (only 110 in 828 holes played). Odds: 55-1|
|20||Robert Garrigus gets headlines for his twangy voice and funny one-liners but the dude has serious game. He finished T3 at the US Open in 2011 and is top-15 on tour in birdie average this season. Odds: 150-1|