US Open; Image: USGA

The 114th U.S. Open starts Thursday at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, but coverage on the tournament is well underway. As is the norm with the U.S. Open, the course will be challenging. Players have started taking notes on the course as The Times reports, "do not miss the fairway to the right at No. 3; do not miss the green long and right at No. 7; and do not miss the green long and left at No. 11." Chad Campbell adds, "If you miss the green short at No. 9 into that deep rough, there's no telling what you'll make." All Gothamist has to say is "Yikes!" We're lucky if we can shoot even par playing miniature golf, let alone playing a U.S. Open course.

Some players that have taken practice rounds at Shinnecock are saying the wind will be the "X-factor", while the rough has played spotty at times. The last player to win the Open at Shinnecock, Corey Pavin, won by shooting an even par 280. Pavin believes scores on the course could "be decent" if the winds remain calm, but he also said that winds generally blow at 15-20 miles per hour from any direction.

There is plenty more coverage in Newsday's US Open Section, which includes the Newsday US Open blog, and in the NY Times golf section. Tiger Woods is the odds-onfavorite to win, but is 0-7 in his last attempts at a major. Woods also took the weekend off to practice for Shinnecock while Sergio Garcia won the Buick Open.

Will Tiger end his losing streak at the majors or can Sergio ride the momentum and win his first major? Can Vijay Singh or Ernie Els steak their claim as the best player this year? Or will it be Phil Mickelson or a player from the field?