US Open preview: A pro's perspective

'I'm confident of success...England has some of the world's best drivers in the world'

Andrew Raitt
Thu, 18 Jun 2009

US Open preview: A pro's perspective

US open golf
Home on the range: Sergio Garcia in practice mode at Bethpage Park

 Former European Tour pro Andrew Raitt has joined the Golfmagic team to give an expert insight into the modern game. The George's Hill pro is currently top of the PGA Southern Region Order of Merit four victories already under his belt.

THE BEST PLAYERS in the world are waking up today getting themselves physically and mentally ready for the challenge that is the US.Open at Bethpage State Park, New York. knowing that it's a course that can bite them at any time.

US Open golf
That's my boy! Girlfriend of Aussie Matt jones watches him practice

All major championships have a slightly different vibe to them. Week in, week out these players see each other at tournaments that are televised around the world, but there's definitely a different atmosphere of expectations at the four majors championships.

Most are just happy to be there; some merely want to be there for all four days; a few will feeling great about their games and wondering if this week could be the one, others are simply there to win.

I have only played in two majors - the 1999 Open at Carnoustie and the 2003 Open at Royal St Georges. Both were won by big outsiders - Paul Lawrie and Ben Curtis giving hope to every players who has qualified.

The Open is always a mystery. The scoring can be low with birdies aplenty and at other times anyone breaking 80 can move up the field. The weather during the build up and during the event can be crucial with the rough either thick or burnt out; the greens holding or as hard and fast as marble.

Cabrera, caddie and a bucket of balls: Checking out the lies in the Bethpage rough

The US Open is not that way! Every player knows that the course will examine every part of their games and any weakness will be exposed.

Bethpage Park's Black course is a municipal course where any handicap golfer can pay to play, but this week it will be stretch to almost 7,500 yards. After recent rain, the fairways are soft and players will be wearing out their long and medium irons.

The rough is not as severe as it has been in the past but even the world's best won't be reaching the greens if they miss fairways, because of the length of the holes.

Driving the ball well and straight is critical to have any chance of competing for the top prizes. From the fairway this course is playable for a top pro and birdies will be made despite it's monstrous length for a par 70.

US open golf
Henrik Stenson with his driver and coach on the Bethpage range

It's for this reason that I'm confident of European success. England has some of the best drivers of the golf ball in the world at the moment.

Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, Ross Fisher and for a little better odds Simon Dyson and Swede Peter Hanson will be on my betting slip this week.

It's hard to see past Tiger Woods retaining the title, after his recent win at the Memorial (where he hit more fairways than any other 72-hole event in his career) but at odds of nearly even money, how can you have fun with that?

The tournament is bound to throw up a few surprises in the early rounds as unknowns are caught like rabbits in the media headlights and I'll be watching closely to see what we can all learn for our own games as the drama unfolds.

Tell us on the forum whom you think will do well this week.



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