Jason Day

Age: 23. Home town: Rockhampton, Australia

Worldwide wins/ World ranking: 1/18

Best 2011 finish: T2, Masters

Best U.S. Open finish: Open debut

No one has won the Open in his first appearance since Francis Ouimet in 1913, so that doesn't exactly make Day on odds-on favorite. He is, though, tremendously talented, and he now has a taste of being in contention throughout a major. He shot 68 on the final day of the Masters, and has four top-10 finishes in his last five tournaments. Only two Aussies (Geoff Ogilvy, David Graham) have ever won the Open. Could Day be next?

How he qualified: Top 30 money leaders from 2010 final PGA Tour money list, 2010 Tour Championship qualifiers, Top 50 leaders on World Golf Rankings as of May 23.

See how he's played Congressional in the past

Angel Cabrera

Age: 41. Home town: Cordoba, Argentina

Worldwide wins/ World ranking: 5/83

Best 2011 finish: 7, Masters

Best U.S. Open finish: 1, 2007

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Charl Schwartzel's victory at the Masters — over an insanely crowded leader board — was that Cabrera was among those in contention who didn't hold up. He bogeyed the two par 3s on the back, and instead of surging, faded to seventh. "El Pato," as he is known ("The Duck") has endured problems with, of all things, his teeth this season; he has missed more cuts (five) than he's made (four) in the last three months. But he is stealthy. If his name pops onto the leader board, don't dismiss it.

How he qualified: U.S. Open winners past 10 years, Masters winners past five years.

K.J. Choi

Age: 40. Home town: Wando, South Korea

Worldwide wins/ World ranking: 15/16

Best 2011 finish: 1, The Players Champ.

Best U.S. Open finish: T15, 2005

The biggest victory in Choi's solid career came last month at The Players Championship, when he beat David Toms in a playoff. But even that hasn't thrust him into the spotlight with the usual suspects. Part of that might be to his infrequent interviews; he can speak English some, but conducts most relations with the media — and therefore, the public — through an interpreter. Still, Choi's nerves are rarely an issue, and he won the 2007 AT&T National at Congressional. The former power lifter might be a savvy choice to lift this trophy.

How he qualified: Players Championship winners past three years, 2010 Tour Championship qualifiers, Top 10 money leaders from 2011 PGA Tour money list through May 23, Top 50 leaders on World Golf Rankings as of May 23.

See how he's played Congressional in the past

Charl Schwartzel

Age: 26. Home town: Johannesburg

Worldwide wins/ World ranking: 8/11

Best 2011 finish: 1, Masters, Joburg Open

Best U.S. Open finish: T16, 2010

How can the reigning Masters champ be a dark horse? Since his win at Augusta National — in which he became the first champion ever to close with four straight birdies — Schwartzel has appeared only once in the U.S., and he joked a couple of weeks ago that people are still butchering his name (it's not "Schwarzenegger," for instance). Schwartzel's accomplishments, though, are growing. When he gets close to the lead, he knows how to close. Of his 10 top-five finishes in the last two years, four are wins.

How he qualified: Masters winners past five years, Top 15 money leaders from 2010 PGA European Tour money list, Top five money leaders on 2011 PGA European Tour money list through May 23.

Hunter Mahan

Age: 29. Home town: McKinney, Tex.

Worldwide wins/ World ranking: 3/20

Best 2011 finish: 2, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Best U.S. Open finish: T6, 2009

To more casual fans, Mahan may be best known for his teary-eyed finish in his final-hole Ryder Cup loss to Graeme McDowell last fall. But Mahan has worked himself into a world-class player. He was in contention at the weather-ravaged '09 Open at Bethpage. He beat an elite field at Firestone last August. Plus, he pushed Tiger Woods in the 2009 AT&T National at Congressional, tying the course record with a final-round 62.

How he qualified: Top 30 money leaders from 2010 final PGA Tour money list, 2010 Tour Championship qualifiers, Top 50 leaders on World Golf Rankings as of May 23.

See how he's played Congressional in the past

Profiles by Barry Srvluga - The Washington Post. Published June 8, 2011.