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Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 11:31 UK

Ken Brown's US Open preview

BBC golf commentator Ken Brown
By Ken Brown
BBC Sport golf commentator

Tiger Woods
Woods is playing for the first time since knee surgery in April

Will Tiger Woods be ready? That is the question.

It will be his first competition coming back after the best part of eight weeks off, so he might lack a little competitive edge. I don't think he would play unless he felt he was fit enough, and I think that physically he'll be ready.

But he's come back from quite long periods off before and often still managed to find his "A" game to win. He often wins his first tournament of the season, so his game is good enough to produce the goods - though it is a bit harder to do that at the US Open.

It's a big ask for him to win, but he's such a capable player and ruthless winning machine that you could never rule him out. He will probably still go in as favourite.

And his record at Torrey Pines is amazing. He's been going there since he was a junior player and has always liked the course. He plays there most years in the Buick Invitational, and has often won it.

However, the course will be very different this week. It's going to have very narrow fairways and rock-hard greens. I understand the greens are going to be as fast as anything they've ever seen.

Iain Carter
BBC 5 Live golf correspondent

So it's going to be a harsh, exacting challenge. If you haven't got your absolute best game there, and don't remain patient throughout the week, you're not going to win.

Over the years, the US Open has not been the most productive ground for the Europeans, but I think this year it's slightly different. The circuit is in America now and the leading European players are getting more chances to play there.

In years gone by, the build-up to this tournament often came at a very awkward spot in the European schedule and it was quite difficult for a player to go over and get acclimatised in a short period of time.

But the likes of Padraig Harrington played in Memphis last week with the idea of building towards the US Open.

I think there are a large number of European players who are capable of winning, but to pick one out at this stage would be very difficult, because it could be any one of a large group, but there are far more now capable of winning the US Open than there were 20 years ago.

Many of the Europeans have benefited from learning the game in America, and all the leading players are playing there more often than in my day, when you got the odd invitation here and there, and perhaps a lucky game at the US PGA.

It's a huge tournament in terms of Ryder Cup points, but also massive in answering the question: "Can you win a major?"

The rest of the time you didn't get a start, whereas now, if you're in the top 50 in the world you can play there as often as you like, which is a huge advantage.

There's the added pressure, of course, of Ryder Cup points, which is not quite coming to a head but getting nearer. Harrington is currently outside the top 10, as is Luke Donald and Colin Montgomerie.

Europe's team as it stands looks inexperienced, and that might still be the case when the gun goes off. But if you're in that top 10, whoever you are, you're there completely on merit.

But there's still a long way to go, and I would be very surprised if Harrington and Donald are not there at the end of proceedings.

However, it can be difficult to get into the team if you are concentrating your efforts on two circuits, which Donald, Harrington and Ian Poulter do. You can spread yourself a little thinly and end up not quite doing enough.

But a good week at the US Open, with the huge prize money at stake, can make the difference. Finish in the top two and you're most of the way to getting your Ryder Cup spot.

It's a huge tournament in terms of Ryder Cup points, but also massive in answering the question: "Can you win a major?"

Ken Brown was talking to BBC Sport's Matt Braithwaite

see also
US Open 2008 photos
11 Jun 08 |  Golf
US Open 2008 photos
09 Jun 08 |  Golf
Golf coverage on the BBC
28 May 08 |  Golf
European Ryder Cup rankings
09 Jun 08 |  Golf

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