The US Open is less than a day away

I love major championship season. The US Open will begin in less than 24 hours when golfers tee off on Bethpage Black in New York.

Here is a short list of my favorite storylines that could (or perhaps will) play out over the next four days.

10. Ernie Els - The Big Easy has done very little over the past few years. Injuries and his short game have let down the South African. His place in the World Golf Rankings has dipped, and it looks like he is well over the peak of his career. Els has a US Open title (back at Oakmont Country Club), and he has the length to perform well at Bethpage Black. If he wants to get his career back on track, this is certainly a great opportunity for Els to re-establish himself as a dominant force in
professional golf.

9. Rocco Mediate - Of course, we remember that Tiger Woods robbed Mediate of his major championship last year with a dramatic putt on the 18th. Mediate put on a show against golf's greatest champion, who played on one functional leg, but Mediate was unable to win his first major.
Could Rocco surprise the golf world again by finding himself in the last group on Sunday?

8. David Duval - Remember him? Duval was at the top of the golf world before the reign of Tiger Woods, and he has not been able to perform well in virtually any tournament since. His exemptions have run out, and Duval qualified to the US Open this month. Obviously Duval has the game (somewhere) to find himself at the top of the leaderboard. A run in New York would be an interesting twist in his career.

7. Padraig Harrington - He won two major championships in 2008. He won the Open Championship in 2007 in a playoff. Paddy has game. If he puts together four solid rounds, I wouldn't be surprised at all if he adds another champion
ship to his trophy collection. At times, Paddy has struggled with one or two big numbers. Of course, those mistakes are deadly at the US Open; however, Harrington knows how to play under pressure. He might have the opportunity to show the golf world that his 2008 performance was no fluke.

6. Angel Cabrera - The "Cabrera Slam" anyone? He has a green jacket, and he won the US Open in 2007 at Oakmont Country Club. If Cabrera wins another major championship, he has to finally be recognized as one of the best players of this decade.

5. Sergio Garcia - El Nino doesn't rub off well with many people. The New York fans weren't drooling over Garcia the last time the US Open was at Bethpage Black in 2002. It turns out that his slow pace wasn't well received. Don't expect Garcia to win many popularity contests this year either. The question still looms as to whether Sergio has the game to win a major championship.

4. Rory McIlroy - The 19 year old from Ireland had a strong Masters performance. He has the length and the short game to have a great US Open. The young guns of the Tour have not emerged to become rivals to Tiger Woods (i.e. Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia). Rory has the opportunity to become the new force of the generation, and this US Open could be his "coming out" tournament.

3. Phil Mickelson - Mickelson recently decided to play in the US Open after taking some time off while his wife battles breast cancer. New Yorkers have always loved Lefty, so it will be no surprise when he draws enormous crowds this week. Nevertheless, he had a tough time at the St. Jude's Classic last week.

2. Kenny Perry - Perry wants another shot at a title. The 2009 Masters proved that Kenny Perry still has the game to lead the younger players, but his ability to handle US Open pressure is questionable. This year may be Perry's last opportunity to claim a major title, and the US Open will definitely be a battle.

1. Tiger Woods - How could it not be? Tiger has two wins this season, and he was in contention until the final two holes at the Masters. However, he has been forced to play the role of comeback kid in all three tournaments. Can Tiger finally demonstrate the dominance he has had in the past? At the very least, will Tiger be able to prove that he is back in Tiger-form after his injury? Staying out of the rough would be a good place to start.

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