2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black: Dark Horse Picks
By Stephanie Wei under General

Anything can happen in a major championship, right? It’s golf. Well, it applies to a certain extent. Here are a few guys that aren’t favorites to win and the odds might be against them, but I’ll be keeping them on my radar. Call me crazy and maybe I am, but that’s why they’re dark horse picks.

John Mallinger: Until he wins, he’ll be my favorite dark horse pick – he’s a good one, to boot. He came pretty close at The PLAYERS’, finishing T3. More recently, he placed 6th at the Byron Nelson. Mally doesn’t hit the long ball, but he’s a good ballstriker. He’s having a solid year. It’s just a matter of time for all the pieces to fall together. It might not be this week, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes better than most would expect.

Ryan Moore: Yeah, I’m not going to lie, I’m biased. But do you blame me? I mean, did you hear what he said on Monday? He’s feeling really, really good. Perfect timing. He’s at the same venue where he played in the same major championship, which was his first professional tournament, no less. Now, he’s back 7 years later – more mature and more experienced. He attributes driving distance and accuracy as the strongest parts of his game – which we know are advantageous at Bethpage. Along with his positive attitude and confidence, I’d expect a very strong showing.

Luke Donald: In his last four starts, he finished in the top 15 three times and placed T2 at the other. His length from the tee might hurt him at Bethpage, but like I’ve said, I think it’s more important to hit fairways. I followed him for a few holes during his practice rounds and he’s looking solid. He has the lowest putting average on Tour and ranks fourth in putts per round. As long as he’s keeping it in the short grass, he’ll be in contention.

Angel Cabrera: You gotta love El Pato. As the reigning Masters’ Champ and 2007 U.S. Open Champion, he has a habit of showing up to play at the majors. He seems to always go with the flow and never breaks under pressure. Rattled by Bethpage? No way. He just plays golf, one shot at a time. Also, he kills it from the tee. Even if he hits a few errant shots, he seems to handle damage control well. Angel isn’t afraid to take risks either – which the set-up will reward if merited.

Camilo Villegas: From the looks of watching him play a bit in the practice rounds, he’s ready to take on Bethpage with full force. His game should match-up decently. Distance? Check. Ballstriking? Check. Intensity? Check. He’s still looking for his first win this year, but we know he’s got game. So far in ‘09, his best finish was T3 at the Buick Invitational. Other than that, he has placed in the top 10 three times and the top 25 four times. Aside: he has the best yoga moves on Tour.

CLARIFICATION UPDATE: I meant to say that I don’t necessarily think the guys above will WIN; rather they will finish well and I’d like to see that happen.