Despite the absence of three time US open winner, and current world number three, Tiger Woods, this year’s contest at Pinehurst looks set to be as interesting as ever. The gap left by Woods has, if anything, made this years tournament intriguing. The recent strong form of World number one Adam Scott and 2011 champion Rory McIlroy sees them both head to Pinehurst as favourites to lift the trophy. But, as is often the case, form could go out the window. Despite a poor last season Martin Kaymer is returning to his best golf, and many will be putting their money of twenty year old whizz-kid Jordan Spieth who just lost out at the Masters earlier this year to Bubba Watson.
The fourteen time major winner Woods announced his withdrawal from the US open after failing to recover from a persistent back injury, but the current strength and depth of talent in golf is sure to provide another great tournament. His domination of the sport has in recent years has significantly faded, Woods having not won a single major in the last six years, and earlier in the year lost his position as world number one. Last year’s Masters champion Scott will go into the tournament as one of the firm favourites following a consistently good season, and a recent win at the Crowne Plaza invitational which will put him in good stead. That win has kept him just ahead of the Swede Henrik Stenson, another challenger for Scott as he goes into his first major as World number, with Scott describing in an interview this new experience, it’s “maybe added a little pressure for myself, trying to play like a number one.”
Scott is not the only man who will feel the pressure, as last year’s winner Justin Rose will be hoping to win back to back titles. Rose became the first English winner of the title for more than forty years but will hope that he can take spirit from his superb performance one year ago. He will, however, not be the only Englishman vying for the silverwear. The everpresent Luke Donald and Lee Westwood will both be aiming to replicated Rose’s achievement despite neither of them having had Major success. Donald performed well last year but only managed to tie eighth behind Rose, who is currently the top ranked Englishman at nine in the world.
The lack of English success at the US open can be somewhat overshadowed by the British success in recent years. Three of the last four tournaments were won by Brits, the first of which was current world number six, Rory McIlroy. Many have questioned how he would be able to perform in recent weeks following his split from tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, but these were quickly washed away by his performance at the PGA championship at Wentworth. McIlroy’s dominant victory has very much presented him as a contender, coming from seven shots behind leader Thomas Bjorn to card a six under 66 and win at fourteen under for the tournament. Despite a dip in form last year McIlroy has started to rise back up the rankings. He could have achieved even more success recently, but carded a 78 falter despite taking a three stroke lead at the start of the Memorial Tournament in Ohio.
The Memorial tournament saw a strong performance by the green jacket owning Bubba Watson whose recent success in Majors presents him as a threat too. The tournament also saw a weak performance from the US open holder Rose, failing to make the cut after the second round. Another dangerman at Pinehurst could be Martin Kaymer. The former world number showed his return to form after a disastrous couple of years, winning the Player’s Championship at Sawgrass, commanding the lead throughout and raising himself from 61 to 28 in the world rankings. Another player on the rise in Jordan Spieth who has come from nowhere to be a real contender for the title. Spieth’s spirited performance at the Master’s, where he at one point led by two, showed the young American’s raw talent. The talent is abundant and this year’s tournament will be more open than ever.