I’ve dissected the U.S. Open field, considered the lack of length at Merion and the weather conditions they’ll all face, and concluded this about who will win the tournament:
Who am I to pick a winner? I’ve played this game nearly 50 years and still haven’t figured how to chip and putt. I picked Brandt Snedeker to win last week, and he didn’t even make the cut.
That’s why I can predict Jim Furyk will win the Open and you should give it no more credence than the Spurs’ Game 1 victory in the NBA Finals.
But I really do like Furyk.
Go ahead and pick Tiger Woods and hope he doesn’t up-chuck another 79 like he did last week. Or maybe Dustin Johnson is your guy; lots of luck with that. Or a South African not named Ernie – actually, Louis Oosthuizen is a pretty strong pick if he gets off to a good start.
It takes experience and numb nerve endings to hold up in the Open, and Furyk has both.
He’s 43 now, but the challenge this week isn’t about keeping up with the young bombers off the tee. It’s about positioning, staying out of the sticky Merion rough, hitting greens and coping with lightning-fast putts.
Furyk has faced it 18 times in the Open, won it in 2003 and finished among the top five six times. He’s got the game to handle the conditions and temperament to withstand the pressure, especially down the stretch on Sunday.
I realize he folded late in the final round last year when he was tied for the lead before a snap-hook off the 16th tee doomed him. It opened the way for Webb Simpson’s victory, and Furyk finished fourth.
I see Furyk playing a consistent tournament this time, hanging with the leaders throughout and putting himself in contention by mid-afternoon Sunday. If he does, he won’t let this one get away.
And if he doesn’t, well, maybe the Spurs do have a chance in the Finals.