Since the Second World War, non-American players have won the US Open on just 10 occasions. However, five of those victories have occurred this century. In four consecutive years between 2004 and 2007 the title headed to the southern hemisphere as Retief Goosen, Michael Campbell, Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera tasted victory.
It took an injured Tiger to end the international streak. At Torrey Pines in 2008, the World Number 1 battled through the pain of an injured knee and fractured leg to beat Rocco Mediate in one of the most dramatic championships in history.
After Woods holed an incredible putt on the 72nd green, the pair were tied meaning an 18-hole playoff was scheduled the following day. Woods and Mediate were still tied after that so an extra, sudden-death, hole was required for Woods to take his third US Open crown.
Tiger will be back this year, fully fit and with two PGA Tour victories under his belt already this season. He was champion last time the US Open visited Bethpage and he’ll be heavy favourite again this time.
In 2002 the Black Course at Bethpage State Park became the first publicly owned and operated course to host a US Open Championship. It’s a famously difficult layout and one that will attract huge crowds from nearby New York.
No European has won the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970, but the continent will be represented strongly at Bethpage. Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington will be joined by World Number 3 Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and a host of others.
Venue: Bethpage State Park (Black Course), New York
Course stats: par 70, 7,445 yards
Purse: $7,500,000, Winner: $1,350,000
Defending Champion: Tiger Woods (-1)
Thursday 18 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 3pm
Friday 19 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 3pm
Saturday 20 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6pm
Sunday 21 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6.30pm
Tiger Woods – If he plays like he did in winning the Memorial Tournament earlier this month, he’ll be very difficult to beat. Let’s face it; he’s very difficult to beat no matter what. He’s only ever once finished outside the top-20 in the US Open.
Geoff Ogilvy – The 2006 champion has a calm and consistent game that’s ideally suited to the rigours of a US Open. He’s on solid form in 2009 and will not be intimidated by the occasion.
Ernie Els – The Big Easy may not be on the kind of form that saw him lift two US Open titles in the 1990s, but he has the talent and skill necessary to cope with the challenging conditions presented by a US Open layout. Might we see one last hurrah for the big South African.
Key hole: 15th. It ranked as the hardest hole during the 2002 Championship. It’s 458 yards but uphill for the final 180 yards to an elevated green protected in front by deep bunkers. The green is two-tiered sloping from back left to front right. Expect to see a number or three-putts here.
Accuracy – As with any US Open course, the fairways are narrow, the rough punishing and the greens firm. A player who finds the short grass on a regular basis will have a distinct advantage.
Scrambling – Even the most accurate players will miss fairways and greens at a US Open. As a result, a solid and imaginative short game is crucial to success.