By Lee Dover | U.S. Open
The crowds are beginning to gather at San Francisco’s Olympic Club as the excitement builds for this year’s US Open tournament.
It will be the fifth time the Lake Course has had the privilege of hosting the prestigious tournament, with the venue known for its narrow fairways and small, bunkered greens.
As such, the greatest names in golf today will have to be on their A-game in order to avoid their golf ball whistling through a tree’s branches or dunking straight into a dreaded bunker.
Britain and Ireland’s finest golfers have another challenge heading their way tomorrow (June 14) though, as three of the big guns have been grouped together for the early stages of the tournament.
Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood have occupied the top three places in the world rankings for a year and will now face off against each other in the first two rounds at the Olympic Club.
The odds at Paddy Power have Westwood narrowly ahead of his two rivals, with 12/1 the price for the 39-year-old to better his third-place finish in the US Open last year and finally lift one of golf’s most illustrious trophies come Sunday evening.
After cruising to a five-shot victory in the Nordea Masters last weekend, Westwood has promised his foes that he will “tee off on Thursday with a lot of confidence”.
Luke Donald could certainly burst his countryman’s bubble this week though, especially since the Brit topped the money lists in Europe and the US last year and is heading to San Francisco with a tremendous amount of momentum.
However, the world number one is still waiting to fill his trophy cabinet with a Major championship title and is 13/1 to finally bring this unwanted record to an end.
Meanwhile, last year’s US Open champion Rory McIlroy will be hoping to silence both his rivals, and the rest of the tournament’s big hitters, and become the first golfer since Curtis Strange in 1989 to successfully defend his crown.
The Northern Irishman has given a glimpse of what’s to come tomorrow by stating: “I’m coming in with the mindset that I’m going to attack the golf course and play aggressively when I can. Obviously you have to be smart, but you’ve got to take your chances around here.”
Will the gamble pay off for McIlroy? Paddy Power has tempting odds of 16/1 that the 23-year-old will be pumping his fists in the air in celebration later this week instead of rueing his decisions off the tee.