Jason Dill commentary | Pick Tiger Woods to win the U.S. Open but expect the unexpected

jdill@bradenton.comJune 13, 2013 

It's United States Open Week, which means a storybook week could be in order for some obscure club pro or name you've never heard of.

That's the beauty of any "Open" tournament, but it's also the only major in the United States that allows for such a rise.

It's why the movie "Tin Cup" resonated with audiences so much.

However, unlike the silver screen, it's unlikely that a mini-tour professional will claim the championship when Sunday's final round concludes.

But that doesn't mean it's impossible.

Michael Campbell marched his way through qualifying to not only play in the 2005 U.S. Open, but hoist the trophy.

And since that year, the golf world has seen a smorgasbord of champions.

With the exception of 2008, every year since Campbell's triumph has produced a champion claiming his first major title.

Sure, Angel Cabrera and Rory McIlory subsequently won another major, but the fact remains: the difficulty of the U.S. Open has given top players fits more often than not to result in a surprising winner.

Still, rest assured no amateur in the field will join golf's elite as the last amateur to become champion occurred in the 1930s.

And Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia is a venue that has yielded a couple great Open champions, in addition to two non-marquee names.

The 2013 edition is the fifth installment of the Open held at Merion, and Lee Trevino and Ben Hogan are two legends who have mastered the course en route to a title.

Fast-forward to the present and the favorite to capture this week's Open crown is none other than Tiger Woods.

But if it isn't Tiger, then look for Justin Rose to make his presence felt. The reason for that is the Englishman's driving ability.

U.S. Opens are remembered for the narrow fairways and punishing rough.

Well, Rose ranks No. 1 on the PGA Tour in total driving, which combines distance and accuracy.

Jim Furyk is rated No. 4 in driving accuracy and has made waves in major championships before, so don't be surprised to see his name pop onto the leaderboard over the 72 holes.

Granted, there are more factors that play a role, and putting certainly figures to be a chief indicator on whom reigns supreme comes Father's Day evening.

And should Tiger Woods revert to his early-season dominance, then he'll be a factor come Sunday, too. But with the off-course antics surrounding him and Sergio Garcia's insensitive comments, let's see if Woods can hold the mental portion up to pre-scandal standard.

If so, golf is one step closer to having Woods' name appear ahead of Jack Nicklaus' when it comes to major titles.

Jason Dill, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 7017. Follow him on Twitter at @Jason_Dill.

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