2014 U.S. Open experts' picks


Each week of the season, our experts share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week, the PGA Tour is at Pinehurst No. 2 for the 114th U.S. Open.

Horse for the Course

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer:  Phil Mickelson
Sure, Pinehurst No. 2 looks different than it did when Lefty finished second here in 1999, but there are few players in the field this week capable of matching his touch and creativity around these turtleback greens

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Mickelson
If loving the course creates any positive energy, then Lefty has it going into the U.S. Open. He has made no secret of his appreciation for the renovations at Pinehurst, and feels the setup suits his style of play and even offers him an advantage

Alf Musketa, ESPN Insider professional sports handicapper: Dustin Johnson
Pinehurst No. 2 will play to a maximum of 7,562 yards. It will feature wiry rough and difficult to hold turtleback greens. Getting as close to these greens to hit in higher approach shots will pay dividends for Johnson.

Gene WojciechowskI, ESPN.com columnist: Adam Scott
Same rationale for picking him to win (see below). Scott has played well in recent weeks, and this type of course will seem familiar to him.

Birdie Buster

Evans:  Bubba Watson
In his last three events, Bubba has a win at the Masters, a tie for 48th at the Players and a third at the Memorial, where a late decision in the final round to hit a driver cost him the tournament. Otherwise, he would have two wins in his last three starts.

Harig: Watson
The Masters champion might not make a lot of birdies this week, but he's been the best player this year, having won twice and with two runner-up finishes. He's coming off a solo third at the Memorial.

Musketa: Jim Furyk
Perhaps for the U.S. Open we should rename this category "Par Buster" because as we know, par is a good score at any U.S. Open track, and birdies will be rare. Furyk ranks No. 1 in scrambling on the PGA Tour at just under 70 percent through 48 rounds. The ability to get up and down could be the ticket to winning another U.S. Open for this former champion.

Wojciechowski: Matt Kuchar
He's been a top-10 machine this year. He did the smart thing by not playing at Memphis and getting some rest to do prep work for the U.S. Open. He's due to win his first major one of these days.

Super Sleeper

Evans:  Miguel Angel Jimenez
The 50-year-old Spaniard has missed the cut in seven of his 12 previous U.S. Open appearances, but in the championship he does have a tie for second in 2000 and tie for sixth in 2008. In April, he had a fourth in the Masters. Then he went on to earn wins on both the Champions Tour and the European Tour. His precise iron play and deft touch around the greens should keep him near the leaders on the weekend.

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