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Exciting Masters Lifts Anticipation for U.S. Open

Posted on April 12, 2011 by Pete South

Can Charl Schwartzel regain his magic at the U.S. Open?

All golf players define each season by their performance in the four majors. This means that thoughts will soon turn from the Masters to June’s U.S. Open, played this year at the Congressional Country Club in Maryland. But as preparations start for the second major of the year, who were the winners and losers at Augusta?

These groups are seemingly led by Charl Schwartzel and Rory McIlroy, but there are plenty of other plays who can plan for Bethseda with positives and negatives from the past week. Schwartzel’s stunning calmness under pressure in the closing stages at Augusta, with four birdies to finish, has lifted him to number 11 in the rankings and an accompanying leap in expectations for the U.S. Open.

Adam Scott, Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy came close to making a mockery of the Australian Augusta curse but actually re-enforced it, especially as Scott seemed set for victory when he hit the front at the 16th hole in the final round. His pleasure at his performance is tinged with regret.

Ogilvy is a former US Open winner and will arrive in Maryland full of confidence after his final round 67 in the Masters, whilst Day was certainly a winner, playing with a maturity that belied his inexperience on the famous course. The golf odds didn’t suggest he’d challenge, but he was right up there and can take a lot of positives from his performance.

Graeme McDowell is the defending US Open champion and will feel the pressure after missing the cut at Augusta, as will Martin Kaymer, who failed to live up to his top ranking. At least these two can write off the event as a bad week at the office, whereas Lee Westwood will be more frustrated by his putting display. He must improve drastically on the greens to give himself a chance at Bethseda.

Angel Cabrera and Tiger Woods have won the US Open and showed they have returned to form at the Masters, with Woods making a real statement of intent on the front nine of his final round. He will be favorite at the US Open and it is a relief for McIlroy that most eyes will be on the 14-time major winner rather than himself as he seeks redemption after his final day horror show at Augusta.

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