U.S. Open humbles the best of the best

Weekend duffers and hackers always try in vain to emulate pro golfers when we take to the public links courses. And with good reason. These elite players can pull off shots with ease that most amateurs can only dream about.

But the next four days will be different. As the best of the best converge on Congressional Country Club in Maryland for the U.S. Open, they will be tested like they have rarely been tested before. When all of the scores are tallied Sunday afternoon, the last man standing could be hovering around par or maybe a few strokes under if he’s lucky.

You see, the U.S. Open makes the world’s best look like mere mortals on the course. In essence, they will struggle just like the weekend warriors who follow the sport, which is why we will all be glued to our sets to see who survives and who doesn’t. (Click here for full TV coverage, which begins today.)

So what makes it so tough? It’s very long and presents major hurdles for those who aren’t accurate off the tee. The water is plenty, the bunkers are deep and the rough is thick enough to force many lost balls and strokes. The par-5 9th is 636 yards long, while the par-4 18th plays 523 yards. Ouch!

We know Tiger Woods isn’t here due to injury, so the key when looking for potential winners is somebody who keeps his tee shots in play and avoids as much trouble as possible (easier said than done). I’m a huge Phil Mickelson fan, but I think he can be too erratic, which is a no-no on an Open course like Congressional. Some other possible names are Steve Stricker, K.J. Choi, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and Luke Donald.

Regardless of wins, though, you can be assured that watching the next four days will be a lot of fun for us. As for those playing this course, um, not so much.