By Lee Dover
In the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge comes one of the biggest golf tournaments of the year, when San Francisco hosts the 2012 US Open between June 14 and 17.
Before a ball has even been teed off or a caddie has walked across the sublime grounds of The Olympic Club, many people are already anticipating the next chapter in the battle for supremacy between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
The event is one of the richest that the sport has to offer, with a heavy purse of $8 million (£5.15 million) waiting to be nabbed, $1.44 million of which goes to the actual winner. Not bad for a few rounds of golf.
There is little surprise that both golfers have the eyes of the world pinned on them, with the past decade or so being decorated with both of these names.
Woods heads into this year’s US Open as a man reborn, with his personal life under wraps and fans beginning to talk about his exploits on the golf course instead of away from it once more.
His performances have particularly been making the headlines, with the USicon last week matching Jack Nicklaus’ career record of 73 PGA Tour wins by emerging victorious at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio.
Not that Woods would brag about his record or anything, mildly telling Sky Sports: “It’s been pretty nice and to do it at age 36, it’s not too shabby. I’ve been very proud of what I’ve done so far in my career and I feel I’ve still got a lot of good years ahead of me.”
Ok, so there was a bit of bragging, but with only a few days to go until the first day of the US Open, every golfer involved will be hoping to create a tide of momentum.
With Woods’ latest feat, there is plenty of value in him nabbing his fourth US Open title this weekend with odds of 7/1 in online betting with Paddypower.com
Perhaps McIlroy needs a little nudge to tell him that Woods is right on his heels and seems determined to take his US Open title from him this weekend. Right now McIlroy is 14/1 in betting for the US Open with Paddy Power.
The Northern Irishman was on top of the world last year, when he saw off the challenge of Australia’s Jason Day to win the 2011 US Open at the Congressional Country Club in Maryland by a huge four strokes.
Fast forward 12 months and McIlroy finds himself coming off a disastrous St Jude Classic, which saw him hit a double-bogey at the last to finish in a tie for seventh place.
Ever the optimist though, McIlroy stated after the competition: “I saw a lot of positive signs this week. I got in a good position after 11 holes of the final round and hit a couple of shots coming in, but, you know, overall it’s still a pretty good week.”
Fans who are confident McIlroy can turn his fortunes around at The Olympic Club can take tasty odds of 14/1 on the world number two retaining his US Open crown – not bad for a man who destroyed the competition in the same tournament last year to become its youngest ever winner.