Can Stricker win his first major?
The U.S. Open, which begins Thursday at Pinehurst No. 2, will have an Illinois flavor, as four former Illini (Luke Guthrie, Scott Langley, D.A. Points, Steve Stricker) and one current Illinois star (Brian Campbell) will be in the field.
Here's a look at who else to watch out for this weekend.
FORMER ILLINI WHO CAN WIN IT:
Of the five players in the field who honed their craft in Champaign-Urbana, the 47-year-old has the most realistic shot at winning his first major championship. He was fifth at Pinehurst in the 1999 U.S. Open and placed in the top 10 last year.
CONTENDER YOU’VE HEARD OF:
The world’s No. 1 player enters the year’s second major riding a wave of momentum thanks to his last two starts. The Australian won the Colonial and followed that up with a fourth-place finish against a loaded field at the Memorial.
CONTENDER YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF:
The world’s 36th-ranked player hasn’t fared well of late, missing the cut in four of his last seven starts, but one of the cuts he made was at the Masters where the fashionable Swede tied for second place at Augusta National.
AND THE WINNER IS:
Since winning the 2011 U.S. Open, the 25-year-old has struggled in the USGA’s signature event, missing the cut in 2012 and finishing 41st last year. But he’s regained form, with eight top-10 finishes this year, including a win on the European Tour.