World’s best golfers come to Washington for the U.S. Open

One of the biggest golf tournaments of the year, the United States Open, is being played this week at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda. So who is going to be the big winner?

Making predictions is part of the fun of sports. Predicting a Super Bowl or a World Series is simple. Just pick one of the two teams, and chances are you will be right about half of the time. Of course, I predicted the Chicago Bulls would be playing the Oklahoma City Thunder for the NBA championship. So I guess making predictions is not that simple.

And predicting a golf tournament is especially tough. The U.S. Open has 156 of the world’s best golfers. Any of them could win this week. A lucky bounce or a putt that teeters on the edge of the cup can be the difference between victory and defeat.

The U.S. Open has been won by such legends as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods. It has also been won by the not-so-legendary Steve Jones, Andy North and Jack Fleck.

By the way, Tiger won’t win this year. He’s home resting an injured leg.

But here are three golfers to watch this week. They are playing well and are good at keeping the ball out of trouble. That’s important at a long, tough course such as Congressional.

Luke Donald: Okay, it’s easy to say the No. 1-rated golfer in the world has a chance to win. Donald is playing great. In the nine Professional Golf Association tournaments he has played this year, he has one win and eight finishes in the top 10. But the biggest reason Donald has a chance to win is that he’s a great putter. Great putters always have a chance.

Matt Kuchar: While most golfers look like kids at the dentist’s office, this guy is always smiling. Why? Kuchar makes golf look simple. He has eight finishes in the top 10 in 14 tournaments this year. He drives the ball in the fairway, knocks it on the green and is a solid putter. So why doesn’t Kuchar win more tournaments? Maybe he’s too happy.

K.J. Choi: The steady South Korean had a big win this year at the Tournament Players Championship. Choi always seems to play his best on tough courses. In 2007, he won the AT&T National, which was played at Congressional Country Club. So Choi should feel right at home.

What about Phil Mickelson? He’s my favorite player, so I’ll be rooting for him. But I think “Phil the Thrill” hits too many wild shots to win this week.

Although I might be wrong about that. After all, it’s tough to predict a golf tournament.

Fred Bowen is the author of 16 sports books for kids. His next book, “Quarterback Season,” will be published in August.

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