PGA Tour Confidential: US Open Preview
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour Confidential

Which American are you backing?

If you haven’t checked out the latest edition of SI Golf Group’s PGA Tour Confidential, it’s worth a look (though I’m sure it’s your second stop on Monday mornings after WUP). We have a lively discussion, starting with which American player we feel most emotionally invested in. Apologies to my international readers (for what it’s worth, most my picks are non-Americans…not finalized yet). Oh, a funny side note. I had just started my road trip from NYC to the DC-area when our email roundtable was kicking off. As quick as I could, I found somewhere safe to pull over and plugged my wireless card into my laptop, and joined in the conversation. I couldn’t miss the pre-US Open week Tour Confidential! I’m sure it was a rather funny sight to see me on my computer, typing away, in the car for about an hour.

Anyway! Here’s an excerpt from our discussion of the first topic:

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Greetings, fellow dimple heads. We’re on the eve of golf’s ultimate holy week, the U.S. Open. The Masters has more charm and the British Open has more history, but for most of us our grueling national championship is the one that stirs the heart. Ken Venturi, winning in ’64 at Congressional: “My God, I’ve won the Open.” What could you possibly add to that? When my friend Mike Donald, who joins us tonight, was in a playoff against Hale Irwin at the ’90 U.S. Open at Medinah, millions of Americans were rooting for him. They could relate to him. Welcome, Mike. For you and everyone else: what American player do you feel most emotionally invested in, and who else will you be keeping an eye on this week?

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Hard not to be emotionally invested in two players who usually break down in tears after every win, Steve Stricker and Bubba Watson.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It’s gotta be Phil, after all the heartbreak.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: I’d like to see the humble Badger, Steve Stricker, pick up his first major at age 44 . The guy’s playing well and would seem to be a perfect fit for an Open.

Gorant: Hard not to root for Phil to finally bag the Open. Stricker’s a pretty good one too.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: Phil has been so agonizingly close in this event. It’d be great to see him finally put those final-round train wrecks behind him and raise a trophy on Father’s Day.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: Without a doubt Phil considering his painful Open history, but it would also be great to see one of the young Americans pull it off: Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson (also some painful memories to put behind him), Anthony Kim and the rest.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I feel most emotionally invested in Phil, since he’s come so close to winning a U.S. Open and never actually gotten it done. It really is similar to the sentiment before he won the 2004 Masters. It’s all too relatable the way Phil wants it so bad and yet has found numerous ways to screw it up.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: I’m going with Stricker. He’s golf’s ultimate Mr. Nice Guy and couldn’t be more genuine. He’s endured an up-and-down career but has managed to rise to marquee player status. He deserves a major. And I just love seeing him cry.

Other topics: Which of the four majors would you want to win the most? How much will Tiger be missed? Do you enjoy watching the pros grind it out in the most difficult test of the year at the US Open? And would you rather play a round of golf with President Obama or House Speaker John Boehner?

I’m not revealing my “favorites” yet. I need a bit more time to mull over the options.

Let’s get a spirited (and friendly) discussion going, guys! I’ve got some good material from Monday’s practice round at Congressional, so stay tuned!

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)