U.S. Open predictions
ARDMORE, Pa. -- My mind has changed a thousand times regarding a venue such as Merion that might just cater to any style of golfer winning this week's U.S. Open.
Bombers like Dustin Johnson can shred it down to size.
Grinders like Graeme McDowell can carve it into submission.
Perhaps even relative rank-and-file golfers with precision games like Boo Weekley can control the final outcome.
Now with a weather occurance called a "derecho" bearing down on an already saturated Merion, the side of the draw may play the biggest part in who walks away with the silver trophy on Sunday (or Monday ... or Tuesday).
With that in mind, I've selected only golfers from the Thursday morning early wave as my picks, considering the worst of the weather is due later in the day. That rules out past champs Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk and McDowell among many other presumed favorites.
Without further ado, my top 5 picks and a darkhorse:
1. Phil Mickelson. He finished runner-up last week in Memphis, a position he's grown used to in U.S. Opens. While everyone got familiar with a Merion course that will no longer exist come Thursday morning, Lefty honed his game in sunny SoCal the last couple of days. Only he could get away with that.
2. Matt Kuchar. Trendy fave considering his two huge victories already this season, he showed his precision at Memorial two weeks ago and should feature prominently.
3. Matteo Manassero. Another hot player peaking at the right time after his victory at Wentworth. Merion is just the right size major course for the young Italian to have his best chance of captializing.
4. Charl Schwartzel. The only thing holding the 2011 Masters champ back from a dominating season is his putting. If he stops yelling at himself long enough this week, he could be the winner.
5. Sergio Garcia. He has stood tall in the face of recent controversy, and Merion is the kind of golf course that perfectly suits his game. Of course, he still has to putt and get out of his own way.
Darkhorse. Boo Weekley. That's right. Despite his limited success in majors, a healthy Boo may be the perfect fit for Merion considering his track record at tight strategic venues such as Harbour Town and Colonial. If he putts reasonably well, Weekley might aw-shucks his way right into the major champion fraternity.