US Open set to tee off

Unlikely 2012 champion Webb Simpson will be hoping to defend his US Open title.

Ernie Els kisses the Claret Jug, 'The Golf Champion Trophy' after winning the 2012 British Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes in Lytham, north-west England. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The US Open gets underway on Thursday with an exciting field taking to the Merion Course in Pennsylvania.

Ernie Els leads out a strong contingent of South African golfers, although Editor of Golf Digest, Stuart McLean says the disappointing performances from certain SA golfers make it difficult to see them in contention.

"Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have been disappointing, they haven't really followed up on their previous major championships success.

"Schwartzel was disappointing in the Memorial a couple of weeks ago, where he had the lead in the third round and let it slip away. I'm not sure what we can expect from them."

Els will tee off with defending champion Webb Simpson who shocked the golfing world in 2012 with his success at the Olympic Club in California.

McLean says Els is South Africa's best bet for success.

"You've really got to put your faith in Ernie, he really is the most consistent South African to me when it comes to majors. His record even now at his age, at 43 years old, he has more presence at the majors than the youngsters have."

Former world number one Luke Donald, still in search of his maiden US Open title, says there have been quite a few changes made to the course.

"It's a little bit different to what we're used to seeing. (It's) a shorter golf course with a lot of variety. The long holes are very long and the short holes are very short, so it gives you a lot of opportunity."

Donald says the weather will have a serious effect on how the course plays.

"The weather is going to dictate how this course plays. It's a real shame that we've had so much rain, I think most people would like to see this course play firm and fast.

"I don't think we're going to get that this week. If it was firm and fast this course would hold up just as well as any other US Open course."