US Open 2011: Rory McIlroy and 10 Candidates to Take Congressional
The U.S. Open cannot be won on Thursday. That doesn't mean that it can't be lost.
So after Day One, we have seen a number of guys make a move.
None more so than Rory McIlroy.
After three great days of play at the Masters, McIlroy struggled during the final round and failed to hold on for the victory.
Here at Congressional, McIlroy has matured. He now knows what it will take to win a major.
So after Day One, lets take a look at the top 10 candidates to win it all.
10. Bubba Watson
If we were basing this on fashion, Bubba Watson would miss the cut.
All I can say is we are lucky his game is better than his fashion sense.
After Round 1, Watson finds himself at even par. While normally that would be excellent at the U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy is playing unbelievable golf right now.
As a result, Watson finds himself way back.
Regardless, Watson can go low if he is hitting the right distances with his wedges. So he is by no means out of this thing.
9. Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia may be the surprise of the U.S. Open thus far.
After needing to go through qualifying to make the field, Garcia seems determined to make the best of his chance.
Shooting 69 on day one left Garcia in a tie for third place, a good position to find himself.
This position is not new to Garcia. Although he has struggled to live up to his lofty expectations, Garcia is a serious threat as this tournament continues.
8. Graeme McDowell
Last year's U.S. Open winner, put himself in good position after the first day.
Firing a one-under par 70, McDowell knows how to perform in the majors.
Outlasting everyone last year at Pebble Beach, he is not scared to put himself into position. Unfortunately for McDowell, Rory McIlroy has left him far behind.
But stranger things have happened, and McDowell could make up some ground on the weekend.
7. Louis Oosthuizen
If this comes down to a last man standing U.S. Open, Louis Oosthuizen has a great shot at winning.
He plays consistent golf, something that is highly valued in the majors.
While he will not go freaky low, he will not blow up either. His win at last year's British Open showed he has the game to win.
The question is whether the leader will fall back enough to give anyone else a chance.
6. Robert Rock
This would be a great story.
Robert Rock struggled making it to the United States for the tournament. He had visa problems and he arrived in the Washington area only a few hours before his tee time.
Without ever seeing the course, or hitting a ball, Rock shot a one-under par for the first round.
If his impassioned play continues, Rock could surprise many.
5. Davis Love III
While many may think Davis Love III's best chance at winning a major was years ago, that is not the case.
Love has the game to compete with the best on any given day.
Carding a 70 for Round 1, Love could have gone even lower if he got anything going on the greens.
4. Stewart Cink
Many seem to forget that Stewart Cink is a major champion. Winning the British Open in 2009, Cink beat the ageless Tom Watson in a playoff.
Previous to that win, Cink was known as a player who could not close out the big tournaments.
If his ball striking is good, Cink can fire a low number, much lower than his first round 70. We will see if his has the game to put himself into contention. If he does, Cink will not back down.
3. Y.E. Yang
The first and only man to look Tiger Woods dead in the eye in a major and come away with a trophy, Y.E. Yang is not afraid of anyone.
He can hit great shots under immense pressure, a must at any major.
While he currently finds himself three under par after Round 1, Yang is still ten shots back of Rory McIlroy.
If his consistency continues and McIlroy comes back to the field, Yang may have a second major title on his hands come Sunday.
2. Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is America's best chance to win. He has the experience, and the game necessary.
After a rough first round, Mickelson bounced back in the second round to put himself in contention. He needs to find a way to go low if he is going to catch McIroy.
Even still, Mickelson is going to need a little help from McIlroy if he wants to win his first U.S. Open.
Has the U.S. Open already become a one-horse race?
It appears that way.
Rory McIlroy has gone historically low in the first two rounds.
Will he beat Tiger Woods' margin of victory record?
He has a chance.
Will he collapse like he did at the Masters?
He has a chance of doing that also.
After all, this is the U.S. Open. This is a major.
The pressure will be there. Now we will find out if McIlroy can handle the pressure.