published Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

What to look for at the U.S. Open

Golfer Tiger Woods
Golfer Tiger Woods
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

U.S. OPEN TV GUIDE

Thursday: Noon to 3 p.m. ESPN

3 p.m. to 5 p.m. NBC

Friday: Noon to 3 p.m. ESPN

3 p.m. to 5 p.m. NBC

Saturday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. NBC

Sunday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. NBC

The U.S. Open is our national championship.

It's one of the few tournaments in the world that provides a $1 million prize to the winner. It's open to everyone who can compete -- from the top golfers in the world to local professionals to kids who just have a dream. Chattanooga locals such as Luke List, Bryce Ledford and Richard Spangler tried to qualify.

Golfers and golf fans in the Southeast will argue that the Masters is the best tournament of all majors. Both tournaments are filled with history -- legendary players, memorable moments and record-setting performances.

But only one tournament identifies a national champion. It's the U.S. Open.

"Amazing history has transpired here," GolfChannel analyst Brandel Chamblee said on a conference call. "I'm chomping at the bit just to watch."

Here are five players who can win.

Tiger Woods

Nearly four years passed between Woods' celebratory double-fist pump at the 2008 U.S. Open and the single pump he gave after chipping in on No. 16 on the way to winning two weeks ago at the Memorial.

Bubba Watson

The ability to move the ball left-to-right or right-to-left will be crucial at the Olympic Club. Watson made one of the most sweeping shots in golf history to help him win the Masters. His creativity will help in the artistic city of San Francisco.

Luke Donald

The No. 1 player in the world has one of the best short games in the world. It should serve him well on the tight course with small greens, plenty of bunkers and diabolical sloping greens. He can score a par from anywhere. At any U.S. Open, par is a good score.

Jason Dufner

The Auburn graduate seems so cool under pressure that he'd make Dirty Harry blink in his own city of San Francisco. Dufner has won twice on the PGA tour this year -- with the wins sandwiched between his wedding -- and been in contention for the last two majors.

Matt Kuchar

The last time the Olympic Club hosted the U.S. Open, in 1998, Kuchar tied for 14th place. He was an amateur who qualified by winning the U.S. Amateur. This year, Kuchar has five top-10 finishes on tour this year, including a victory at The Player's Championship a month ago.

The nature of the U.S. Open -- it's open to anybody with a handicap of 1.4 or better -- creates stories that last a lifetime for those who live them. Here are five stories to root for this week.

Casey Martin

The University of Oregon golf coach has a debilitating disease in his right leg which forces him to ride in a golf cart to compete.

Dennis Miller

No, not the comedian. This Dennis Miller qualified by surviving a four-hole playoff. He didn't see the winning putt -- just the gallery.

Jordan Speith

The Texas freshman is carrying the legacy of Bobby Jones in that Jones is the last amateur to win the U.S. Open -- that was in 1930.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson has won three green jackets and one PGA Championship. But he has never won the U.S. Open. He's finished second five times in his career.

Andy Zhang

He is 14-years-old. He's the youngest person to ever qualify for the U.S. Open. He was born in China and has lived in Florida since 2008.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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