Win a 2012 US Open Championship pin flag from The Olympic Club, San Francisco, signed by the last two US Open Champions, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, by leading your team to top spot in this week’s Fantasy standings
It is hard to believe the year’s second Major is already upon us, but as the World’s best head to The Olympic Club for another stern test of golf, we have a few fantasy tips to help you on your way to our fantastic spot prize.
There is only one place to start this week, and that is with runaway defending champ Rory McIlroy, who was in resurgent form last week on the PGA Tour until an 18th hole hiccup cost him a potential title in Memphis. However, it acted as proof that the Northern Irishman is very much a contender this week, after a recent run of poor form by his standards, and we expect a strong title defence from him this week.
We are also expecting big things from World Number Three Lee Westwood who actually played in the US Open the last time it was held at Olympic in 1998. He performed well that week en route to a tie for seventh, and all in all he has finished in the top five at this event on three occasions, finishing third both last year and in 2008. Westwood also heads to San Francisco with a fresh piece of silverware for the mantle, after a romp to victory at last week’s Nordea Masters, and now full of confidence he will tee it up looking to go one better than his two career Major second place finishes.
New to the game’s top table, but handling it beautifully so far, is Sweden’s Peter Hanson who announced himself on the Major stage earlier this year at the Masters Tournament where he led heading into Sunday’s final round. He would eventually finish in a tie for third, a continuation of a fine season that has seen him hold every position in the top five of the leaderboard other than number one, adding to that with a tie for third at last week’s Nordea Masters back home in Sweden. Clearly a man in form, and as one of the game’s great drivers of the ball, he could be a dark horse this week in San Francisco.
Much the same as 2012 top performer Justin Rose who has already picked up the biggest win of his career so far with a maiden World Golf Championship title at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Since then he has also looked sharp, performing well both sides of the pond and chasing Luke Donald home at Wentworth en route to a tie for second alongside Scotland’s Paul Lawrie. Third in 2003 is his best finish in this event, but he has led Major Championships before, and we of course all remember his Hollywood finish at Royal Birkdale in 1998 to secure a fourth place finish. However, this remains his best in a Major, something he will look to better come Sunday night.
Costantino Rocca has come closest to a maiden Major title for Italy and some 17 years since he narrowly missed out at St Andrew’s, losing in a play-off to John Daly, Francesco Molinari will take up the baton as their country’s next great hope for glory on the game’s biggest stage. He has been a consistent performer for a few seasons now, and having come off a third European Tour title at the Reale Seguros Open de España just a month or so ago, he will be full of confidence and raring to go. The US Open Championship always poses a stiff test, requiring pin point play from fairway and tee as well as an ironclad short game, but it will also test your skill with the putter. This is an area that has sometimes held the Italian back, but he has looked better this season, and if he were to string something together he could mount another Italian charge at Major glory.
While these are our top picks we also have a couple of potential ‘outsiders’, if you can call them that, that we feel could also figure near the sharp end of the board. The first being Ernie Els who has shown glimpses of a return to form in 2012, coming close to victory on two occasions over on the PGA Tour, and faring well at the BMW PGA Championship on the course he so famously redesigned. It was a little while ago now, but the Big Easy has won two of these titles (1994 and 1997), and having posted 27 Major top tens in his career so far you can never count him out.
And finally, what about Sergio Garcia, who heads to this event looking better than he has for a little while after a tie for third in Sweden and having fared well in this event in the past. He finished third at Bethpage Black in 2005 and has posted a total of 16 top tens in Major Championships so far, coming close to that elusive ‘W’ on a number of occasions, and none more famous than his title tilt in 1999 at the US PGA Championship. If the Spaniard could channel some of the enthusiasm that saw him sprint so iconically down the fairway at 15 on the final day, and if his putter co-operates, then he could finally find himself in the Major club come Sunday night.
So there you have it, our Magnificent Seven that we fancy for good fortune in San Francisco, and we’ve not even mentioned the World Number One Luke Donald. Proof that The European Tour contingent will be stronger than ever, so update your fantasy team today in time for Thursday’s first round to give you the best chance at our fantastic prize, then sit back and enjoy the action.