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Predicting the unpredictable

June 15, 2011
B.J. LISKO - Salem News Sports Editor ( , Salem News

Trying to figure out who is going to win the U.S. Open is about the same as trying to guess a random number in someone's head between one and 156.

It's that ridiculous. That's how the USGA wants it.

Jack Nicklaus has an absolute great quote when it comes to the tournament.

"The U.S. Open is 72 holes of bad breaks with the occasional surprise," he said." And he's right.

Who wins the open isn't always who is best, but rather who survives. Sure, talent obviously plays a major factor, and the more fairways and greens you hit the better. There's no escaping U.S. Open rough. There's no scrambling for par. If you screw up, count your losses, make sure you've counted them right so you don't get disqualified, and move on.

So basically every time I try to predict the U.S. Open I'm first looking for guys who hit the ball straight as an arrow (I harken back to my Rocco Mediate pick in 2008 when he lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods - he didn't qualify this year or else you would see him here because he hits it dead straight almost every tee shot), then I'm looking for guys who have had a horrific case of luck because maybe, just maybe karma will be on their side come the weekend.

So here goes. If any of these are right it's by complete luck. But the lucky ones almost always win this thing anyway, so this column is par for the course. And if you haven't heard of half of these guys, it's probably because their golf game is as boring as waiting for a five-some on a public course on a holiday weekend.

1. Matt Kuchar - About as bland as they come in terms of watching, Kuchar has been near the top of leaderboards all year and it isn't for his massive tee shots or his extravagant risk-taking. It's because he's straight off the tee and avoids catastrophes.

2. Miguel Angel-Jiminez - If I pick him enough eventually he'll win and make me look good. But really, I always pick "The Mechanic" in majors because he doesn't throw up snowmen or really anything much over par very often. He's a steady player, he's older, and he's playing in his first major for his fallen hero and Spanish compatriot Seve Ballesteros. How cool of a win would it be for Angel-Jiminez and all of Spain?

3. Andres Gonzales - I'm picking him because he looks like Kenny Powers from HBO's "Eastbound and Down" and his Twitter comments toward Tiger Woods are hysterical. If you see a guy that looks like a biker/lumberjack, that would be Gonzales. And hey, he qualified, so he's got as good a chance as any, and a great sense of humor to boot.

4. Steve Stricker - Stricker isn't going to win, but his play recently has been very solid so I think he'll contend. He was lucky to hang on for his win a few weeks back so karma isn't working for him, but his game is.

5. David Toms - Toms is another guy who is playing well, but again caught fire a few weeks back and won a tournament after finishing second in The Players Championship. His game will put him in contention, but he'll need the good bounces to come out on top.

Wild cards

1. Dustin Johnson - He's here because he should've won the PGA Championship last year if not for the "bunker" incident which was completely stupid.

2. Rory McIlroy - A great young player with a million dollar swing and a five-cent head on Sundays. He will win a major sooner than later, though. He's too good not to.

3. Robert Rock - Don't know him? I didn't until last week either when I saw his name flash across the screen for a European Tour event. Another straight as an arrow hitter, and he appears to be hot at the moment.

4. Ian Poulter - Poulter has won once this year and is playing very good golf.

Sometimes his game gets erratic like his pants, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him contend.

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