The US Open is notoriously the hardest of all the majors to win and the toughest golfing test, that the players will face all year. I've trawled through the leaderboards over the ten years US Open Championships to arm you with as much information as I can, regarding what to look out for as you make your selections.
Looking down the leaderboards over the years, it's the Americans that tend to dominate the US Open. Four of the last ten winners have been from the US, with Ireland being the next best with two. The remaining four have been won by a variety of international stars. Over the past five years combined we have seen seventeen of the first 28 positions occupied by Americans, equating to a percentage of just under 61%. In my opinion, those that are not regulars on the PGA tour are at a distinct disadvantage in terms of preparation and it shows in the results.
Of the last ten US Opens, the winner has failed to break par over 72 holes on four occasions. In 2006 and 2007, the winning score was a massive five over par. Disregarding last year where the USGA made a mess of the expected set up, in the top five from 2006-2010, only seven players from those leading positions have broken par. Being such a challenge, look for players with strong mentality, strong staying power and great 'bounce back-ability' to get through the gruelling conditions.
As well as needing a tough mental strength, it's the cream that generally rises to the top at the US Open. The leaderboards over the last ten years are littered with star names. Those near the top of the world ranking regularly feature as the pretenders fold over four days. Anyone can have a good round, but over four rounds in some of the toughest playing conditions, those that havn't got it will usually be found out eventually. The likes of Els (70.00), Woods (9.00), Mickelson (25.00) and Furyk (40.00) are regulars in contention and should all be given attention.
Aside from the Americans, those most prominent on the recent US Open leaderboards tend to come from either Australia or South Africa. Geoff Ogilvy (80.00) was your winner in 2008 and Retief Goosen (200.00) took it down in 2004. Ernie Els though is arguably the standout player, featuring prominently in most of the last ten tournaments and can be backed at 15.00 to finish within the top five.
From 2002-2006, Australians infiltrated the American domination somewhat with the likes of Allenby, Lonard, Leaney and O' Hern all picking up big cheques. Another notable player from South Africa is Tim Clark (200.00)- a name that pops up in a few of those leaderboards and Tim is just returning to form after injury this season. Charl Schwartzel (60.00) and Louis Oosthuizen (60.00) are the new breed of South African stars and both finished in the top ten last year.
I've already mentioned a strong mentality and a quality all round game but with the demands of US Open golf, players with certain key attributes tend to go well. The aforementioned Tim Clark being a regular feature in the leaderboards isn't a coincidence, as he's one of the most accurate players in the game from tee to green. Clark has the key ingredient in his game of being able to avoid trouble.
The biggest defence of US Open courses is the rough. Generally extremely penal and thick along the fairways and around the greens, it's vital to stay out of it as much as possible. It's no surprise then to see accurate, intelligent players like Clark, Weir and Furyk in and around the top of the leaderboards through the years.