On the eve of the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage, Golfweek.com's staff writers pick their winners — and sleepers — at the Open.
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Winner: David Toms. I have listened to the tom-toms banging in the distance, and they say David Toms will win the U.S. Open. He is desperate — OK, make that anxious — to once again prove he belongs among golf's elite. Winning one major is nice, but winning two different majors is a validation of greatness. Tied for second at Memphis heading into the U.S. Open. No. 1 in driving accuracy on the PGA Tour.
Sleeper: Andres Romero. A real tough guy for a tough golf course. Plays well on brutally difficult golf courses. Vastly underrated with a terrific all-around golf game. Following Angel Cabrera at the Masters, he would love to continue the Argentine Slam.
Winner: Tiger Woods. Hey, I'm a big guy and I can't go wandering out on too many limbs, you know. Really, you could go broke betting against this guy, and with Bethpage Black being all about power, do you know a better power play? Neither do I. And last we saw him, he was driving it straighter than a ruler. He will complete his U.S. Open foursome (Pebble, Bethpage I, Torrey Pines) and will lack only a victory at Turnberry later this summer to complete the major foursome foursome (four victories of each flavor).
Sleeper: Henrik Stenson. OK, hard to call the No. 6 guy in the world a "sleeper," but be honest: Is he on anyone's short list at your office water cooler? Again, a long hitter who can play in a big ballpark such as Bethpage Black.
Bradley S. Klein
Winner: David Toms. He's the best at hitting fairways on Tour this year and ranked No. 10 overall in combined distance and accuracy off the tee. He has six top-10 finishes in 2009, is long overdue to win again and is fresh off a T-2 at the St. Jude Classic. Bethpage Black rewards his modest, efficient style, and he's unlikely to get jangled on the weekend, even if paired with Tiger Woods.
Sleeper: Rory McIlroy. He might not be considered "a sleeper" since the Northen Irishman is ranked among the top 20 in the world and has already won on the European Tour this year. But he's uninitiated in U.S. Open competition. At only 20, he's also brash enough to be unfazed, and with average drives of 303.5 yards (on the European PGA Tour) he's long enough to reach Bethpage's par 5s in two and take advantage of the strategic angles off the tees that are available only to golfers who can carry the ball 285 yards in the air.