Miller, Koch agree Woods the favorite at Merion


Tiger Woods is the overwhelming favorite to win the U.S. Open at Merion in two weeks.

In a media teleconference Wednesday with NBC analysts who will be calling the action at Merion, the first Woods question wasn’t about his chances of winning his first major in five years. The question was if he doesn’t win at Merion, what will have prevented him from doing so?

“Anytime you can give Tiger a course where he doesn’t have to use his driver, I think it’s an advantage,” Johnny Miller said. “I think the way he won The Players Championship was very similar to what he’s going to do at Merion. He can get it off the tee with less than a driver, his iron game is terrific and the rest of his game is terrific. The only weakness for Tiger is when he has to hit driver. If he doesn’t have to hit driver, it sounds crazy, but he’s tough to beat. If he can just hit that stinger off the tee, or whatever, he’s going to be tough. He can stop the ball on hard greens with those high approach shots and the way he spins it.”

Woods played his first practice round at Merion this week. The course sets up as a par 70 measuring just 6,996 yards, making it the first U.S. Open venue under 7,000 yards since the championship was played at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.

Ladbrokes makes Woods a 4/1 favorite to win at Merion. Rory McIlroy is next at 10/1. Nobody else is  better than 25/1.

“I think if Tiger has that stinger shot working, I think he’s going to be very tough to beat,” Gary Koch said. “If he doesn’t win, it will be his putting. He has putted great the majority of this year, especially since he got the tip from Steve Stricker at Doral. If you go back to the majors Tiger has played the last few years, when he has had a chance to win, he hasn’t made the putts he made earlier in his career on a regular basis in the majors.”