Handicapping the 114th U.S. Open

Who will conquer Pinehurst No. 2?

     Handicapping the 114th U.S. Open, which begins Thursday at 5:45 a.m. on the No. 2 course at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort and Country Club:

FAVORITES

     Adam Scott (16/1): It’s no coincidence the world’s current No. 1 also is No. 1 in the all-around ranking.

     Rory McIlroy (16/1): Playing well and seems happy since breaking up with his fiancé. Hey, I’m just sayin’.

     Phil Mickelson (20/1): Creativity may rule the roost at Pinehurst No. 2, so you have to consider this guy.

     Bubba Watson (20/1): In an odd way, getting rid of all that grass at Pinehurst might have improved his chances.

CONTENDERS

     Justin Rose (25/1): Defending champ hasn’t exactly sizzled lately, but his victory at Merion remains a feel-good win.

     Jordan Spieth (25/1): This 20-year-old hopes to become the second-youngest U.S. Open champ behind 19-year-old John McDermott in 1911.

     Henrik Stenson (25/1): Golf Digest ranks him as the best player never to have won a major. Um, congratulations?

     Jason Day (28/1): Golf Digest ranks him as the second-best player never to have won a major.

     Matt Kucher (28/1): Golf Digest ranks him as the third-best player never to have won a major.

     Dustin Johnson (33/1): Engaged to Paulina Gretzky, which technically should count as a major.

     Lee Westwood (33/1): 0 for 64 in majors.

     Sergio Garcia (33/1): 0 for 62 in majors.

     Steve Stricker (40/1): 0 for 61 in majors.

     Graeme McDowell (40/1): Won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and pretty much has been on cruise control ever since.

     Jason Dufner (40/1): If the 2013 PGA champ wins this week, will wife Amanda get another butt slap?

     Jim Furyk (40/1): The 2003 champ could threaten for another major title with his seventh Top-5 finish at the U.S. Open.

     Zach Johnson (40/1): The 2007 Masters champion has never finished better than 30th at the U.S. Open.

     Jimmy Walker (40/1): Oklahoma City native leads the tour with three victories this season and is current FedExCup leader.

     Luke Donald (40/1): That’s odd. Don’t think I’ve heard his name uttered once all week.

     Martin Kaymer (40/1): Won this year’s Players Championship, the season’s (unofficial) second major.

     Webb Simpson (40/1): The 2012 U.S. Open winner at Olympic attended nearby Wake Forest, which could sway the crowd.

     Hunter Mahan (50/1): Former Oklahoma State stud not exactly on fire right now, but has game that must always be respected.

     Rickie Fowler (50/1): Another former Cowboy who could pop at any minute with a major moment. Why not this week?

     Hideki Matsuyama (50/1): Winner of the prestigious Memorial two weeks ago. Another rising star at age 22.

     Ian Poulter (50/1): This isn’t the Ryder Cup, but go ahead and pick him right now to win at Gleneagles in Scotland in September.

     Keegan Bradley (50/1): Has been noticeably quiet lately. What exactly does that mean anyway – noticeably quiet?

     Brandt Snedeker (50/1): Has been conspicuously absent lately, which I suppose is somewhat similar to being noticeably quiet.

SLEEPERS

     Gary Woodland (66/1): Hits it a country mile. Is that much farther than a Carolina mile?

     Paul Casey (66/1): Didn’t he used to be pretty good? Still only has one PGA Tour win (2009 Houston Open).

     Jonas Blixt (66/1): “Gesundheit.” Oh, wait. He’s Swedish. Then “gud välsigne dig.”

     Graham Delaet (66/1): Hmmm, these odds seem awfully low to me. Is he that good?

     Harris English (66/1): (See Graham Delaet.)

     Angel Cabrera (80/1): His two wins on PGA Tour have been majors – 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont and the 2009 Masters.

     Ernie Els (80/1): Still a silky swing for this four-time Open winner – two U.S. (1994, 1997) and two British (2002, 2012).

     Retief Goosen (80/1): Final year of exemption for this two-time U.S. Open champion.

     Miguel Angel Jimenez (80/1): OK, class. Ready for calisthenics? Did everyone bring a cigar? 0 for 63 in majors.

     Patrick Reed (80/1): Self-proclaimed Top-5 player in the world will have a chance to prove it this week.

     Bill Haas (80/1): Wake Forest grad and son of Jay, another Wake Forest grad, but no relation to Hunter, who went to Oklahoma.

LONG SHOTS

     Bo Van Pelt (100/1): An OSU product and sectional qualifier who has been known to binge on birdies.

     Kevin Na (100/1): Na thanks.

     Geoff Ogilvy (125/1): If he’s battling Phil on Sunday, I like his chances. “I am such an idiot.” – Mickelson.

     Seung-yul Noh (125/1): Seung-he’ll noh he can’t win.

     Aaron Baddeley (150/1): Has been just plain Badd lately.

     Darren Clarke (250/1): Has no chance. Then again, that’s what I thought at the 2011 British Open. So why not? Cheers!

     Tiger Woods (4/1): Not here, but still the odds-on favorite.

THE PICK

     Johnson: Hopefully he'll greet Paulina on the 18th green the same way Dufner greeted his wife. #Dufnering

     (Odds by Bovada)

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