It’s one of the biggest golf tournaments of the year and hits the Bay Area this week as the best golfers in the world take to the fairways of the historic Olympic Club for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

I have been fortunate enough in my past life (worked in the golf industry for years) to have been able to play the course on three separate occasion and have always said it is my absolute favorite course in California (even tops Pebble Beach for me) that I have ever gotten the chance to play at. It has such a rich history and is a true test of golf in every sense of the word.

It’s always hard to really see the slopes and elevation changes of a golf course on television but Olympic Club’s Lake Course is filled with plenty of doglegs, narrow fairways, small and fast greens and very few easy holes. Par will be a great score and I wouldn’t be shocked if the wining score came in over par.

The golf course does not necessarily suit a long hitter. Like most U.S. Opens, it really suits a golfer who can hit the ball straight, a good iron player and someone with an inventive short game.  Working the ball off the tee will be key and the winner will be a great shotmaker.  Expect the person who makes the most 5-6 foot putts to be at or near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

I always think the U.S. Open is the most difficult golf tournament to predict a winner in. If you look at the history at Olympic, it has an underdog feel to it. In 1955, Jack Fleck beat the venerable Ben Hogan in a playoff. In 1966, it was Billy Casper taking down Arnold Palmer. In 1987, Scott Simpson defeated Tom Watson by a shot. And in 1998, the last time the championship was played at the course, Lee Janzen defeated Payne Stewart. Predicting a winner is a crapshoot but I’ll give you a few names outside the box who I think could carry home the trophy this week.

Matt Kuchar: He just won the Player’s Championship this year and is a terrific ball striker who has consistently performed well in majors the past three years.

Francesco Molinari: One of Europe’s most underrated players, he has really started to play better and better in the U.S. and particularly in major championships.

Martin Laird: One of the European players who is playing more in the states, his game suits Olympic.

Brandt Snedeker: Great short games are key to any major championship but especially the U.S. Open and while streaky, Snedeker can really scramble when he’s going.

Of course, that probably means Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Rory McIllroy will win but that will be just as fun too. For any golf fan, it’s going to be an amazing week.

Details:

U.S. Open

June 11-17, 7am – 8pm

The Olympic Club

599 Skyline Blvd San Francisco, CA 94132

415.404.4300

Remember though, if driving, the best way to get to the Olympic Club will be to either park at Candlestick Park and take one of the free shuttles (6am – 9pm) or catch a shuttle from the Colma BART station (5am – 9pm; 6am-pm, Sat; 8am-9pm, Sun). You can also bike to Lake Merced Boulevard or take the #18 Muni line to 46th Avenue and enter through the John Muir gate.