Gear up for US Open |

Gear up for US Open

Nearly every week there is a PGA Tour event, and each week is important. However, a handful of events carry more weight. Due to history, tradition and typically lots of money, four of these tournaments have become greater than all the others. They have become known collectively as the “majors.”

Next week, at the Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania, the United States Golf Association hosts our national championship, also called the United States Open Championship.

It is available (or open) to virtually any skilled player who would like to qualify. Certain events are by invitation only, but this one is even open to the public. Aspiring professionals and many of the countries best amateurs will plunk down a few bucks and tee it up with the goal of qualifying.

Qualifying begins at the local level. A small number of top players will then advance to a regional qualifier. After two rounds (36 holes) at the regional level, a few elite players will go on to compete in the United States Open. All told, about 8,000 players will make the attempt and a few dozen will qualify for our country’s national championship.

The full field is composed of players who qualified through other means; the top players on the PGA Tour, top foreign players and those who played well in last year’s U.S. Open Championship.

This year’s television coverage will nearly be dawn to dusk and I would encourage you to watch the world’s best play on a golf course that is set up to be a challenge. Relax with your favorite beverage and enjoy the show. Allow me to give you a brief overview, an informal program to help break the ice.

In 1895 the first U.S. Open Championship was conducted in Rhode Island. It was a sideline to the United States Amateur. Amateur golf was preeminent and professionals were just the guys who built or repaired golf clubs. It would be forty years before the pendulum of top players would swing toward the professionals and the last amateur to win was John Goodman in 1933.

Television broadcast the tournament for the first time in 1954 and now all four rounds are shown. The first two rounds, Thursday and Friday, may be viewed on ESPN. Saturday and Sunday’s rounds may be seen on NBC.

Candidly many of the participants, although very skilled, are not among the elite and are long shots to win. There are only a few dozen players who realistically have chance for victory. Let’s take a look at several contestants, true contenders who are players to watch.

Without question, our first pick would be Tiger Woods. He’s the best player on the planet, performs well in major tournaments (every tournament, for that matter) and has won 14 of these major tournaments.

Matt Kuchar — He is playing very well this year and is coming off a win at the Memorial (Jack Nicklaus is the host) last week.

Justin Rose — He is ranked No. 5 in the World Golf Rankings, finished in the top-10 at the Memorial and plays well in the majors.

Boo Weekley — Top 10 on the Money List and a won a few weeks ago at Colonial.

Sergio Garcia — The U.S. Open venue may be too challenging for Sergio’s game, but it would be fun to have Tiger and Sergio paired together again.

Do others have a chance? Certainly, and we aren’t able to discuss all of the possibilities, but this is a good start because all of these men have a great opportunity for a win.

Sunday of the U.S. Open is always on Father’s Day. So enjoy a super week of golf and have a wonderful Father’s Day. You might even share the day together on the course, then head back to watch your country’s national championship!

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