Age: 34 Country: England World Rank: 1st Appearances: 8 Cuts Made: 6 Rounds played: 27 2011 Finish: T45 Best Finish: T12 (2006) Low Round: 66 (Three times - most recent R4 '11) Scoring Average: 73.22 Money Won: $274,423
For the second straight year, Donald won the European Tour's flagship event - the BMW PGA Championship - to take over the top spot in the world rankings. That marked his second win of the year, as he also won the PGA Tour's Transitions Championship. The Englishman has five top-six finishes in his last eight starts, but is still looking for that elusive first major title. Donald's best finish at the U.S. Open was in 2006 at Winged Foot, where he shared 12th place.
This week's defending champion added last week's St. Jude Classic to his schedule after missing the cut in his previous three events. The extra practice he picked up prior to the St. Jude helped as he broke par in three of the four rounds and tied for seventh. McIlroy was one back on the 18th tee Sunday, but dumped his drive in the water. With soft conditions at Congressional last year, McIlroy set or tied 12 U.S. Open records. Among the records he managed were lowest score and lowest score in relation to par. He got to 17-under, before finishing at 16-under. His magical performance came after he blew up in the final round at the Masters. McIlroy has finished inside the top three in four of the last nine majors, and has a pair of top-10 finishes in three starts at the championship. With his solid play in Memphis, McIlroy will be among the favorites at The Olympic Club.
Age: 39 Country: England World Rank: 3rd Appearances: 12 Cuts Made: 10 Rounds played: 44 2011 Finish: T3 Best Finish: 3rd (2008, 2011) Low Round: 65 (R3 '11) Scoring Average: 72.43 Money Won: $1,431,958
Maybe this is the year Westwood breaks through for his first major championship victory. He is coming off a dominating five-stroke win in Sweden and returns to The Olympic Club, where he tied for seventh as 25-year-old playing in just his second U.S. Open. In 10 subsequent appearances at the Open, Westwood has bettered that finish three times, including a share of third last year. Westwood hasn't missed a cut this year and has six top-10s in his last 10 worldwide starts.
Age: 36 Country: USA World Rank: 4th Appearances: 16 Cuts Made: 14 Rounds played: 59 2011 Finish: Did Not Play Best Finish: 1st (2000, 2002, 2008) Low Round: 65 (R1 '00) Scoring Average: 71.19 Money Won: $5,524,464
As Yogi Berra once said, "It's deja vu all over again." For the second time this year, Woods comes into a major having won his last start. Things didn't go as planned at the Masters as he struggled to a tie for 40th. Between his two wins this year, the three-time U.S. Open champ missed a cut and tied for 40th twice. His game seems to be coming around, but he has broken par in just nine of his last 18 rounds overall. Woods missed this championship last year due to injury. Outside of his missed cut in '06, Woods has posted top-20 finishes in his other 13 U.S. Open appearances since turning pro. He tied for 18th at The Olympic Club in 1998.
With his home-grown swing, we've always known Watson was his own man. That has shown itself even more since his dramatic win at the Masters in April. Shortly after that, Watson and his wife adopted a baby boy and Watson chose to be at home most of the time instead of playing golf. He shared 18th in his title defense in New Orleans and missed the cut at the Memorial in his two starts since Augusta. There is no telling what you'll get out of Watson this week. Prior to his missed cut, he hadn't finished worse than tied for 18th all year. He has made the cut in three of his five U.S. Open appearances with a tie for fifth in 2007 his best finish. If we see the same Watson we saw at Augusta, he'll definitely be a threat this week.
Age: 33 Country: USA World Rank: 6th Appearances: 9 Cuts Made: 4 Rounds played: 26 2011 Finish: T14 Best Finish: T6 (2010) Low Round: 68 (Two times - most recent R2 '11) Scoring Average: 73.46 Money Won: $388,274
Kuchar turned 20 the day of the final round at The Olympic Club in 1998, but he was celebrating that whole week. He opened with rounds of 70-69 and was tied for fourth, two strokes off the lead. Kuchar, then an amateur, struggled to 10-over par over his final two rounds to slide into a tie for 14th. He has played eight U.S. Opens since, and bettered that finish just once, a tie for sixth in 2010. He claimed his biggest title so far on the PGA Tour in May when he won the Players Championship. Kuchar enters the year's second major having broken par in eight of his last 12 rounds, and his tie for third at this year's Masters was his best finish in a major.
With a hit-or-miss record at the U.S. Open, it's hard to predict what Rose will do this week. He earned his first World Golf Championship title in March, and he hasn't missed a cut all year. He has top-10 finishes in five of his last six events, but truly only contended at the BMW PGA, where he trailed by two entering the final round, before finishing four shots behind Donald and tied for second. In six previous U.S. Open starts, Rose missed the cut four times and had two top-10 finishes. He shared fifth in '03 at Olympia Fields and tied for 10th in 2007 at Oakmont. He has been playing well of late, but with his inconsistent results at this championship, it would be hard to tab him as a favorite.
Age: 30 Country: USA World Rank: 8th Appearances: 6 Cuts Made: 3 Rounds played: 18 2011 Finish: Missed Cut Best Finish: T6 (2009) Low Round: 68 (Two times - most recent R3 '06) Scoring Average: 72.61 Money Won: $447,260
One of three players with two wins on the PGA Tour this year, Mahan has struggled since that second victory. His tie for 12th at the Masters was his best finish since his one-stroke win at the Houston Open. Like Rose, Mahan's U.S. Open record is spotty. He has missed the cut three times, but in his three other appearances at this championship, Mahan has three top-20s, including at tie for sixth in 2009 at Bethpage Black. He has played the weekend in 15 of his previous 25 major championship starts and has 10 top-20 finishes. Again, it's tough to consider him a favorite, but he should chalk up another top-20 this week.
Age: 35 Country: USA World Rank: 9th Appearances: 5 Cuts Made: 3 Rounds played: 16 2011 Finish: Missed Cut Best Finish: T40 (2006) Low Round: 71 (Two times - most recent R1 '07) Scoring Average: 74.88 Money Won: $94,431
He may have blown some leads earlier in the year, but Dufner is now one of the hottest players on tour. Dufner has two wins and a runner-up finish in his last four starts. He may have run out of gas while closing with a 74 at Colonial, but he took the last two weeks off to help his Auburn Tigers at the NCAA Championship, and recharge his batteries. His laid-back, calm demeanor is perfect for the tough conditions he'll face at the U.S. Open. Dufner has made the cut in three of his previous five Open starts, and has played the weekend in five of the last eight majors he's played, including his playoff loss at last year's PGA Championship. Despite his poor record at this championship, Dufner is a good bet this week for another good finish.
Coming off a back injury, no one knew what Johnson would be able to accomplish the last two weeks. After sharing 19th at the Memorial, he rallied to win the St. Jude Classic with a final-round 66. That was his first win since last year's Barclays, but he'll enter this week as one of the favorites. Two years ago, in the first prime time television finish, Johnson was the 54-hole leader at Pebble Beach, but he struggled to an 82 in the final round to slide into a share of eighth. He incurred a costly penalty at the PGA Championship later that summer to miss out on the playoff. He has made the cut in all four U.S. Opens that he has played in, with his 2010 finish being his best.
Age: 45 Country: USA World Rank: 11th Appearances: 16 Cuts Made: 14 Rounds played: 60 2011 Finish: T19 Best Finish: 5th (1998, 1999) Low Round: 66 (Two times - most recent R2 '09) Scoring Average: 72.48 Money Won: $973,465
The 45-year-old Stricker has played less than most players on tour with just nine starts this year. He won the season-opener in Hawaii and immediately said he'd be back to defend, in part so he could bring his family over on a nice winter vacation. However, he has just three top-10s since and has broken par once in his last six rounds. Stricker shared fifth at the Olympic Club in 1998, and has played the weekend at the last six U.S. Opens. He has three top-10s in 16 previous Opens, but with his lack of play this year, it's tough to see him contending this week.
Age: 41 Country: USA World Rank: 13th Appearances: 21 Cuts Made: 19 Rounds played: 80 2011 Finish: T54 Best Finish: 2nd (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009) Low Round: 66 (Two times - most recent R2 '10) Scoring Average: 72.11 Money Won: $3,499,989
Since 1994, Mickelson has missed the cut in just one U.S. Open, but he is still searching for his first victory at the year's second major. A five-time runner-up, Mickelson has endured many a heart break at this championship. You might recall his quote after coughing up the '06 Open, "I'm such an idiot." Well, that idiot was inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame this year. His run-away win over Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach was the 40th of his career on the PGA Tour. He followed with a second-place finish at Riviera, and had back-to-back top-four finishes at Houston and Augusta. He has failed to break par in just 12 of 47 rounds this year. Mickelson, who will celebrate his 42nd birthday on Saturday, has finished in the top 10 in eight of the last 14 U.S. Opens, and can never be overlooked as a threat to win this title.
Though he has been on tour since 2009, Simpson has only appeared in four major championships, the last four in fact. His tie for 14th last year at Congressional was his best finish among those four. After taking fourth at the Wells Fargo, his third top 10 of the year, Simpson has missed the cut in his last two starts and has failed to break par in his last five rounds. He won twice last year, but it would be a surprise if he were near the top of the leaderboard this week. Simpson has a little history at The Olympic Club. He lost in the first round of match-play at the 2007 U.S. Amateur.
Age: 27 Country: South Africa World Rank: 15th Appearances: 5 Cuts Made: 4 Rounds played: 22 2011 Finish: T9 Best Finish: T9 (2011) Low Round: 66 (R4 '11) Scoring Average: 72.94 Money Won: $369,133
The 2011 Masters champion has 10 top-10 finishes since winning his first major championship last April, but has failed to crack the winner's circle again. He has made the cut in 10 straight majors, and has seven top-20 finishes in that span. He has finished in the top 20 at the last two U.S. Opens and has played the weekend four of the five times he has played this championship. Schwartzel failed to break par in four rounds at the Memorial after breaking par in six of his previous eight rounds. Tough to tell if he can contend, in part because he has played just four events since Augusta, where he tied for 50th.
Age: 29 Country: South Africa World Rank: 16th Appearances: 2 Cuts Made: 1 Rounds played: 6 2011 Finish: T9 Best Finish: T9 (2011) Low Round: 67 (R4 '11) Scoring Average: 71.83 Money Won: $192,964
The 2010 British Open champion has one of the shots of the year, his double-eagle at the Masters. It might have been the best shot until Bubba Watson's miraculous shot from the trees in the playoff. That shot helped Watson beat Oosthuizen in the extra session. In the last seven majors, the South African has missed three cuts and has three top-10 finishes. If he makes the weekend, look for Oosthuizen to contend, but he has missed the cut in eight of his 13 major championships starts overall.
Another top player looking for his first major championship crown, Scott has finished in the top 10 at three of the last five majors, but has missed the cut in each of the last two years at this championship. He has failed to make it to the weekend in six of his 10 U.S. Open starts and doesn't have a top-20 finish. Scott has made only eight starts worldwide this year and his best finish was a share of eighth at the Masters. Tough to see him making any noise this weekend.
Though he missed the cut at the St. Jude Classic, the 2007 Masters champion has a win and two second-place finishes in his last five starts. His other finish was a tie for 69th, so Johnson has been hit or miss with his results since tying for 32nd at the Masters. After a spotty record early in his career at the four majors, Johnson has made the cut in 10 of the last 11, but has just two top-20 finishes in that span, and he has never finished better than tied for 30th at this championship.
Nearly as hot as Dufner, Fowler has four top 10s in his last five starts, including his first tour win and a runner-up a the Players Championship. Fowler beat Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points with a four-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole at the Wells Fargo. He has played just three U.S. Opens and missed the cut in two of them. Fowler tied for 60th as an amateur in 2008. He played in the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur and the 2007 U.S. Amateur, both at the Olympic Club. His first-round loss in the match-play of the Amateur was his best result at those two championships. Despite his hot play of late, his lack of track record in majors makes it tough to see him doing much this weekend.
The 2010 champion is struggling with his game at the moment. He lost to Nicolas Colsaerts at the Volvo World Match Play on the European Tour a month ago. That came in the midst of three missed cuts for the Ulsterman. On the strength of a second-round 63, he finished second to Woods at the Arnold Palmer, but has won just once since claiming this title two years ago. He has missed the cut in five of the last eight majors. Couple that with his poor play of late, it would be tough to see McDowell doing much this weekend. However, he has made the cut in all six of his U.S. Open appearances and has finished in the top 20 in the last three.
Age: 32 Country: Spain World Rank: 22nd Appearances: 12 Cuts Made: 10 Rounds played: 44 2011 Finish: T7 Best Finish: T3 (2005) Low Round: 68 (Four times - most recent R2, '04)) Scoring Average: 72.27 Money Won: $1,359,652
Starting with last year's U.S. Open, Garcia has four straight top-12 finishes in the majors, and he tied for third behind Westwood in Sweden last week. He has finished in the top 10 four times in 12 U.S. Open starts, with a share of third in 2005 being his best finish. Has broken par in 10 of his last 13 rounds, overall, and has finished in the top 13 in his last three events. His putting has held him back in past Opens, but he ranks 27th in total putting and 22nd the new strokes gained statistic. No reason he shouldn't make some noise this week.
World Rankings as of June 11th, 2012 Appearances are through the 2011 U.S. Open Photographs provided by Getty Images