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December 06, 2001

Two to watch at the Open
By Dan Patrick

Aside from the usual suspects like Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Ernie Els, there are two golfers who might take a run at stopping Tiger Woods this weekend at the 101st U.S. Open.

Garcia is an accurate driver, and hitting the fairways is the key to success at a U.S. Open.

Sergio Garcia is playing very well right now. He is not afraid of Tiger, which is more than half the battle. Garcia's game is in good shape after winning The Colonial and finishing second at The Memorial.

Now, Tiger won The Memorial and didn't play at The Colonial, but still, Garcia has a chance to pick up where he left off at the 1999 PGA in his effort to beat Tiger at a major. He is an accurate driver, and hitting the fairways is the key to success at a U.S. Open.

Joe Durant could also be a factor. He had a hot start and has remained consistent. At the U.S. Open it is more about the trouble that your misses cause than the benefits gained from your great shots. A consistent golfer like Durant can thrive when the tournament is not about risk-taking and going for it.

There really is nothing more to say about Mickelson or Duval. If they win, it will be no surprise because of their obvious talent. If they lose, it will be just another example of how they remain winless at the majors.

With Mickelson, though, you get the feeling that he has to make the short putts all weekend. The rest of his game is there. Ernie Els has won two Opens, so if he makes it three, no one will be shocked. Vijay Singh is tinkering with his swing and clearly has the game to win.

But take a look at Garcia and Durant. It might be their time.

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