A U.S Open sans Tiger Woods will be a surreal sight. He’s played this marquee event every year since 1995 and his euphoric fist pumps and “C’mon Tiger” self-flagellation will be sorely missed.

Three years ago, when it was held at Torrey Pines, Woods won the tourney limping around one-legged while braving the pain of torn ligaments and a double stress fracture in his left tibia. His current knee and Achilles injuries must be pretty serious to cause him to pull out of the 111th edition of his own national championship.

This major, the only one that still utilizes an 18-hole playoff format to settle a top of the leaderboard deadlock will bring major fanfare to the Congressional Country Club, despite being Tiger-less for the first time in 17 years. This will be the sixth biggie the suburban D.C. golfing hotspot has hosted. The notches on its bedpost this perennial top 100 courses in America list-maker already lays claim to are: the 1964 U.S. Open, the 1976 PGA Championship, the 1995 U.S. Senior Open, and the 1997 U.S. Open.

Opportunity Knocking for Phil

With nine top-10s, including five runner-up finishes, Phil Mickelson will be doing whatever it takes to shed his ‘always the bridesmaid’ U.S. Open rep. Lefty’s recent track record at Congressional is iffy. He finished the 1997 U.S. Open tied for 43rd and the ‘05 Booz Allen Classic tied for 29th. In his last start at Congressional, the 2007 AT&T National, Mickelson missed the cut. Still, he certainly has the skills to win the trophy. He’s just got to find the fairways and get his putting mojo going. And Lefty must avoid the dreaded double-bogey monkey that has ruined things for him in U.S. Opens past. A win here would push Mickelson into the five major victories club in the company of greats Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson.

Negative Nancies

Defending champ Graeme McDowell cast a dour prediction to his Twitter followers the other day by remarking that “no-one will break par.” Maybe McDowell was just trying to psych out his competitors, but complaining about Congressional isn’t new. When the AT&T National was played here Steve Stricker whined about the greens having a mind of their own. "You end up just tapping it down there and it goes any which way it wants" he said at the inaugural 2007 event. Though, Stricker still managed to finish six under. But maybe if McDowell’s forecast comes to fruition there ought to be some congressional hearings about the Congressional’s famous blue course.

Fantasy Talk

Yahoo fantasy golf players who followed my picks for The Players lucked out with K.J. Choi clutching the crystal when it was all said and done. For the U.S Open, my foursome is Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler (the young gun has knocked on the door of a big tourney, he’s just gotta’ take the next step and close the deal), Bubba Watson and Anthony Kim. I keep swapping Mickelson and Johnson back and forth, so it’ll probably come down to an 11th-hour decision.

Past Five Winners

2010 Graeme McDowell
2009 Lucas Glover
2008 Tiger Woods
2007 Angel Cabrera
2006 Geoff Ogilvy

About Congressional

There have been a few changes at Congressional, including making the 18th hole a par-4 rather than the old par-3. These modifications also reduce the impact of noise from the 17th, which in past had disrupted golfers on the final hole. To accommodate the change, the 18th was shifted to be the 10th and No. 17 was lengthened to take over as 18.

Related: Check out the course

- The Congressional’s Blue Course Opened in 1924
- U.S. Open Setup: 7574 yards, Par 71
- Designed originally by Devereux Emmet, and has received makeovers by Robert Trent Jones and later Rees Jones.

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