US Open - A Quick Six

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U.S. OpenWith U.S. Open Week in full swing we asked The Golf Channel's Mark Lye, Frank Nobilo and Brian Hewitt, and TheGolfChannel.com's Mercer Baggs to answer a few questions about the season's second major.
 
Do you think Phil Mickelson will capture his third consecutive grand slam title at Winged Foot?
 
Mark Lye
No, Phil can win any tournament these days, but this particular one I don't see him keeping the ball in play enough. He also needs to avoid making so many bogeys (as he did at Muirfield) if he wants to be in the last two groups on Sunday.
 
Frank Noiblo
No, because he tends to struggle too much with tight, restricting golf courses.
 
Mercer Baggs
I think that he is the favorite, and I expect him to contend. He'll make his share of bogeys, but he should make plenty of birdies. However, I'll take the field over Phil.
 
Brian Hewitt
I think the sheer mathematical odds are stacked against Phil Mickelson winning his third straight major at Winged Foot. That having been said, I think he is the favorite to win the event.
 
Following the long layoff and lingering affects of his fathers death, will Tiger Woods be able to contend ' or even win ' his third U.S. Open title?
 
Lye
No, but I don't think he will be affected negatively by his fathers recent passing; this will only motivate him to do better. If he were to win this one, it would be his greatest win ever in a major, and I don't put it past him. Winged Foot does not fit his style of play; there is a lot of movement in the fairways (like Oak Hill), so he will struggle along with all the other power hitters.
 
Nobilo
Yes, if Tiger is in contention come the weekend, then he could be an even more dominant force than before due to the passing of his father. We haven't seen the best of Tiger Woods yet!
 
Baggs
I'd like to say yes, and hate going against Tiger, but I don't think that he will. Good friend John Cook said that Woods has been playing well at home, but there is a big difference between playing at home and playing against real competition for the first time in nine weeks -- in the U.S. Open, nonetheless. I think that he might struggle to make the cut.
 
Hewitt
Woods, I think, will contend. I will not be surprised in the least if he wins the championship.
 
Do you enjoy watching the best players in the world struggle to make par like they do at a U.S. Open or would you like to see more opportunities for them to make birdie?
 
Lye
Yes, I like it. But I wouldn't want a steady diet of it. A U.S. Open usually has an element of 'unfairness' to it (like the seventh hole at Shinnecock). If the USGA can avoid those kinds of things and make it play tough the proper way instead of gimmicks, I am all for it.
 
Nobilo
The score is irrelevant. I like to see the best players in the world be tested and would rather see them par the hardest hole in the world than birdie the easiest.
 
Baggs
I don't enjoy it as much as I used to, which probably goes back to Shinnecock. Still, the U.S. Open only comes around once a year, so it's good to see the best players in the world face the ultimate test in course conditions.
 
Hewitt
The U.S. Open is my favorite major mostly because the value of par is more highly prized as a commodity than at any other championship in golf.
 
Who is your sleeper pick to win the U.S. Open?
 
Lye
Zach Johnson. He's been playing very well of late.
 
Nobilo
Jim Furyk, because he is a 'threader' of the ball.
 
Baggs
I would say Retief Goosen, since everyone sleeps on him, but that's too easy. Every past U.S. Open winner at Winged Foot had either already won a major before their Open triumph or went on to win another major. That in mind, I'll take David Toms. But also keep an early eye on Brett Quigley, who has been playing well lately, was medalist at Canoe Brook, and was the first-round co-leader in his last U.S. Open (2003 at Olympia Fields).
 
Hewitt
My sleeper pick for the U.S. Open is Arron Olberholser.
 
Which player has the best chance of becoming the first European-born player to win the U.S. Open since 1970?
 
Lye
Henrik Stenson. If he can get on a run like he had at the beginning of this year, watch out!
 
Nobilo
Sergio Garcia, because he is one of the most talented Europeans around at this point, and David Howell, as he has played the best both inside and outside the USA in the last 12 months.
 
Baggs
Though he's been a major disappointment in the majors thus far, I'll go with Luke Donald, based on his iron play. Also, David Howell has played well lately.
 
Hewitt
I think David Howell has the best chance among the Euros - Four words: Rich veign of form.
 
Do you think Michelle Wie will ever qualify for the mens U.S. Open, or any other mens major?
 
Lye
Yes, it is only a matter of time, but she has got to learn how to become a better putter. That's what's holding her back from moving up.
 
Nobilo
As long as Michelle Wie continues to attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open, then yes, I do think she will eventually reach her goal. The U.S. Open is her best chance to qualify for a men's major purely because of the qualifying system.
 
Baggs
Having seen all 143 swings in person at Canoe Brook, I think that she will definitely qualify for a men's major. Putting can be a tricky thing, as some guys, like Sergio Garcia and Charles Howell III, just never get 'it' -- they're too techinical. If Wie ever finds a feel around the greens, she will be unstoppable in women's play and will provide a good test against the men.
 
Hewitt
I do think Michelle will qualify one day if she keeps after it.
 
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