U.S. Open five things to know

1. American rise?
For the first time in the history of golf, no American owns a major championship at the same time Europe has possession of the Ryder Cup. Might that change at Congressional Country Club this week?

Well, Europeans own the top spots in the world with Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer taking the top three rungs on the rankings ladder.

And if a non-American were to win just outside our nation's capital on Father's Day, the streak of five major winners from somewhere other than the United States would also be a first in the sport's history.

2. Streaks end at Congressional
With Tiger Woods not in the field, he'll be missing his first U.S. Open since 1994. That leaves the Masters as the only major Woods hasn't missed as a professional.

Other streaks that will end this week are Vijay Singh's mark of 67 majors in a row, which was the longest active streak. The new benchmark is Sergio Garcia's 48 straight after the Spaniard made it through sectional qualifying on June 6.

Mike Weir had been ahead of Garcia with 48 in a row, but the Canadian -- who has been struggling through injuries -- isn't in the field at Congressional, either.

3. When leading isn't ideal
He who sleeps with the 54-hole lead should beware. Thirteen consecutive 54-hole leaders at a major failed to break 70 in the final round. Only four went on to win.

Nine of the last 11 54-hole leaders failed to win the tournament, including Dustin Johnson at last year's U.S. Open and Rory McIlroy at the Masters in April.

In addition, three of the last four 54-hole leaders not only didn't win, they didn't break 80 in the final round.

4. Feeling blue
Congressional Country Club's Blue Course will take center stage, starting Thursday in Bethesda, Md.

So how will it play? In a word: long.

The 523-yard par-4 18th hole (yes, par-4) will be the second-longest par-4 in U.S. Open history. Granted, it plays downhill, but there's a peninsula green awaiting second shots. The top honor for longest par-4 went to No. 7 at Bethpage Black in 2009 that measured 525 yards.

The 636-yard par-5 ninth hole is the fourth-longest hole ever in a U.S. Open. Golfers will also have to be wary of a ravine in front of the green.

Overall, the course had more than 300 yards of length added since it hosted the 1997 U.S. Open won by Ernie Els. It will play as the second-longest U.S. Open venue and third-longest major in history. Torrey Pines in 2008 (7,643 yards) and Hazeltine at the 2009 PGA Championship (7,674) were longer.

5. U.S. Open tidbits

Want to wow your friends with your knowledge of the year's second major? We've got you covered.

• The last time Congressional hosted a U.S. Open, Els won at 4 under. He edged Colin Montgomerie by a shot and Tom Lehman by 2. Those three were the only players to finish under par for the week.

• The low round from the '97 U.S. Open was a 65 by Monty in the opening 18 holes.

• Of the last 10 major championships played, there have been 10 different winners. And only one, Phil Mickelson at the 2010 Masters, was inside the top 10 in the world rankings at the time of his victory. Y.E. Yang (110th in 2009) was the lowest-ranked winner.

Graeme McDowell will attempt to be the first to win back-to-back U.S. Open championships since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989. Only six players have won consecutive U.S. Open crowns, with Strange the only one in the last 55 years.

• The cut on Friday night (assuming no weather delays) will trim the field of 156 golfers to the low 60 and ties, along with players within 10 shots of the lead.

• The highest cut in the U.S. Open since 1980 was 9 over. It came both at Oakmont in 1983 and at Winged Foot in 2006.

• The 2012 U.S. Open will be held at Olympic Club near San Francisco.