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PGA Tour Heads from St. Jude Classic to U.S. Open
As several lesser-known names faded from atop the leaderboard Sunday, Phil Mickelson made a charge into second place, but 23-year-old PING staffer Harris English held on to win his first PGA Tour event, the St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn. With his win, English becomes the fourth PING player with a PGA Tour victory in 2013, tying PING with TaylorMade for the most winners so far this year. Nike Golf leads in overall tournaments won with five, thanks to four wins by Tiger Woods.
Here’s the clubs that English used to win last weekend:
PING G15 driver, 10.5 degrees
PING G5 fairway wood, 15 degrees
PING G20 fairway wood, 18 degrees
PING S56 irons, 4-9
PING Gorge Tour wedges, 52 and 56 degrees
Fourteen Golf wedge, 60 degrees
PING Nome TR putter.
Interestingly, English doesn’t have any of PING’s newest metalwoods, the G25 series, in his bag, while his irons, wedges and putter are all the latest editions of their lines.
U.S. Open Preview
The St. Jude Classic was the last run-up before the U.S. Open kicks off Thursday at Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia. Judging by the online chatter, as well as the Las Vegas odd-makers, Mickelson did the most to improve his chances at Merion with his solid weekend and late push Sunday. He’s now considered one of the favorites heading into the Open, along with a handful of other Tour superstars. The top-5 most favored golfers this week, according the betting lines, are as follows:
5. Phil Mickelson
The four-time major champion has never won the U.S. Open, but he’s come close, finishing in second place five times, most recently in 2009. Last year Phil finished in a tie for 65th, but he is coming off of an encouraging performance last weekend at the TPC Southwind. His second-place showing there was good enough to get him back into the top-5 in the FedExCup standing, and his odds on winning at Merion currently stand at 20-1.
4. Rory McIlroy
The young Northern Irishman has had a quiet year, considering he entered it as the No. 1 golfer in the world. He forfeited that title back to Tiger Woods early on this season and doesn’t have a victory on Tour yet in 2013. Yet the young phenom is still one of the most favored in the field, with his odds on winning sitting currently at 20-1. The concern that Merion GC will prove to be too easy for today’s players may turn out to be a blessing for McIlroy, who won at Congressional while carding the lowest 72-hole total in U.S. Open history.
3. Adam Scott
The Aussie certainly proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with on golf biggest stages with his win at the Masters in April. His odds of victory at Merion are put at 20-1.
2. Matt Kuchar
One of two players to win multiple times so far in 2013, golf’s perpetually smiling star seems poised for his first major tournament victory. He’s sitting with the others at 20-1 odds but seems to have more momentum swinging his way than any other golfer outside the No. 1 spot.
1. Tiger Woods
Since taking back golf’s No. 1 ranking early in the year, Woods has been tightening his grip into a familiar stranglehold on the competition. He’s won four times already this year and says he’s hungry for another major, something he hasn’t won since his epic playoff victory over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open. His 9-2 odds reflect his status as the undisputed favorite.
Other notable golfers atop Vegas’s odds are last year’s winner Webb Simpson, at 25-1, and past champion Graeme McDowell, whose game seems to lend itself to Open play, at 22-1. A gaggle of other well-known players and former champions sit at 30-1.
Many onlookers believe the course itself will be the story. Merion Golf Club has one of the most storied traditions in U.S. golf, having hosted multiple U.S. Amateur Championships, including two won by Bobby Jones, and four previous U.S. Opens, including playoff wins by Ben Hogan in 1950 and Lee Trevino in 1971. However, at less than 7,000 yards, the 117-year-old course is considered short for this event and hasn’t hosted an Open in 32 years. Whether it lives up to the U.S. Open’s usual billing as the toughest test of the year remains to be seen.