2011 US Open (Golf)

US Open 2011: Rory McIlroy and 10 Candidates to Take Congressional

John BurkeContributor IJune 17, 2011

US Open 2011: Rory McIlroy and 10 Candidates to Take Congressional

1 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 17:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    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

2 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Bubba Watson watches his tee shot on the eigth hole during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    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

3 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 17:  Sergio Garcia of Spain hits a shot on the 15th tee during the second round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    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

4 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland walks across a green during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    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

5 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa waves to the gallery during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    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

6 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 17:  Robert Rock of England hits a tee shot during the second round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    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

7 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Davis Love III hits his tee shot on the ninth hole during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    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

8 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Stewart Cink watches a shot during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    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

9 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Y.E. Yang of South Korea hits a shot during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    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

10 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 17:  Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    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.

Rory McIlroy

11 of 11

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 17:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland smiles as he walks off the 11th green during the second round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 17, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    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. 

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices