With no Tiger Woods this weekend I'm sure people might have a little less interest in the Open, but I think we are in for a great weekend of golf. Steve Stricker is coming off of a big win, and looking to keep his hot streak going this weekend (including many more birdies and maybe another a hole in one?). I would love to see nothing more than a guy like Stricker win this thing. Angel Cabrea won the Open in 2007, and that is about it for people winning over the age of 35 in the past 10 years. As for some more history for you, the last time it was held at Congressional in 1997, Ernie Els took home the title. Graeme McDowell is the defending champion, and will try to be the first person to win back to back since Curtis Strange in 1988-89.
The pairing this week for the first two days have a lot of solid groups. The group to keep a close on eye is the 1:35 tee time of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Rory McIlroy. We all know the mess Dustin Johnson went through with the grounding of the club last year. McIroy pooped, for the lack of a better word, himself at the Masters this year, and Phil Mickelson has to be the crowd favorite since Tiger is out. A group that is going out early Thursday with the 7:44 tee time is made of Matt Kuchar, Paul Casey, and K.J. Choi. This could be a sleeper group of three guys that all have a chance to make a run at the championship. Steve Stricker will tee off at 1:24 with David Toms, and two time Open winner Retief Goosen. Here is a list of all the parings and times they will tee off.
With over 100 people playing this weekend it hard to single out one guy as the guy that is going to win the title. It wouldn't be fair for me to pick 10 guys either, so I'm going to give you my top three guys. My first guy has to be Matt Kuchar. Who? And why you ask? He is a long hitter that finds the fairway, and knows how to play par golf. That will be a huge key this weekend. My second guy is Steve Stricker. Might be a homer pick, but he played well two weeks ago. He also knows how to score, and stay out of trouble. My third guy is Graeme McDowell. He won it last year, and his putter can be very clutch at times. If you just play tee to fairway, fairway to green, two-putt for par, but sink a birdie here and there you will score well this week. The minute you find yourself right or left you will find yourself looking up at the leaders. That's why Phil, Dustin, and Rory kind of scare me. They could of course all still win without a doubt, but where is the fun in picking the best guys?
Either way it should be a good weekend. The final round falls on Father's Day again, and I have to say that would be one of the greatest feelings ever. Walking up the 18th hole about to win a Major with your dad standing by the green has to be an excellent feeling. Knowing the person that guided you through life is now watching you be successful in front of millions would be a once in a lifetime experience. I'm looking forward to watching someone possibly do that again this weekend.