Lots of Aussies will be playing this week’s US Open at Pinehurst, but how many of them have a chance of winning?
It’s always great to see loads of Aussies teeing it up at a major championship and this week we have a few on debut at Pinehurst #2 for the 2014 US Open. Long term, it must be good for your confidence to have a major or two already under your belt but realistically do the first timers have much of a chance of winning this week? And what about the older brigade of Pampling, Ogilvy and Allenby? Are they any chance of getting into contention on Sunday?
A major golf championship is always exciting and I can’t wait to see the players tackle this golf course. My one disappointment about the upcoming week is that Marc Leishman isn’t playing this week. He didn’t qualify, but let’s take a quick look at those who did.
There was a time, not too long ago when Australian golf fans were just hoping a few Aussies would make the cut at a major to make the weekend interesting. Those days seem like a long time ago now – we now expect Adam Scott to not only be in the hunt on Sunday afternoon but win the whole thing.
His recent record at the majors is very good except for one – the US Open. Scott has finished no better than a tie for 15th at the US Open (in 2012) and while I expect Scotty to finish better than that this year, I’m not sure his game is as polished as he would like it heading to Pinehurst.
Oliver Goss (a)
Without doubt, Oliver Goss will taste success at big golf tournaments. His poise and demeanour is remarkable for an amateur of just 20-years-old. It’s a huge ask to think he might make a name for himself this week but he’ll feel pretty comfortable over the first few days as he’s paired with fellow Aussies Aaron Baddeley and Aron Price.
After winning the WGC Match Play earlier this year, Day has been grounded due to a persistent thumb injury. Normally such a long injury would rule anyone out of a chance to win a major but this is Jason Day we’re talking about. He’s a dogged fighter on the golf course and steps up for any big tournament. the word is that he is fit and ready to go – after a decent result at The Memorial tournament a few weeks ago, we can believe it. Arguably our best chance this week.
Sendo was playing some great golf until his missed cut last weekend. But I’m guessing his eyes are firmly on Pinehurst and I give Senden a good chance of a top-25 finish, at least. He is ranked 7th on the PGA Tour for sand saves, 10th for greens in regulation and 13th for strokes gained putting. Perfect stats for a shot at a US Open at Pinehurst.
Speaking of Badds, it’s really difficult to know what he’ll do any week right now – let alone a US Open. Badds has missed the US Open cut in his last three appearances but Pinehurst #2 might suit him a little more than previous venues and he has shown some glimpses of form. I wouldn’t be surprised if Baddeley comes good this week.
I’ve almost given up predicting Geoff will come good this week. We all know he’s got talent and the short grass around the greens at Pinehurst should the 2006 US Open champ but his driver is all over the place right now – and his putting isn’t much better. Ogilvy is both a good chance to miss the cut and finish inside the top-10.
The second Aron (minus one ‘a’) in the field is Aron Price. Price assumed his skill with the sticks would see success simply fall his way but he has decided to get serious about his golf over the past few years and it’s begun to pay dividends. He qualified last week to make the field for his first major and his playing some good golf. Again, the opening round pairing will help settle his nerves.
Ranked 49th in the world, Matt Jones still slips under everyone’ radar. I assumed John Senden and Marc Leishman are ranked higher than him. But they’re not. And for good reason. Jones has put in some great performances this year to be 26th on the FedEx Cup rankings. Jones didn’t make the cut at The Masters earlier this year but the major appearance will put him in a good place this week and a good opening round is vital to give him confidence.
Watt is another who made the field via sectional qualifying last week. Like Goss, Watt is set for big things with a fabulous golf game but it may be asking way too much to get anywhere near the top of the leaderboard this week.
Rod Pampling, Robert Allenby
I’m lumping these two older guys together as I think they’re both set for the same conclusion this week. One the stalwarts of Australian golf, they’ve been promptly put on the back-burner due to the rise of Scott, Day and Leishman among others. Pampling arrives at his eighth US Open and Allenby his 14th courtesy of qualifying last week. Pamps has had a pretty rough time of it this year, Allenby has been a little better but I’m not sure these guys will make the cut.