By PETER PIERCE
THIS year's US Open at Pinehurst No2 will boast a record field of 14 Aussies with the chances of an Australian victory high.
The lone Australian victory in this championship was in 1981 with David Graham claiming the title with a magnificent final round at Merion.
Since then Greg Norman finished runner-up twice, once in a playoff with Fuzzy Zoeller and Stephen Leaney chased Jim Furyk home in 2003.
Bruce Crampton at his best in 1972 was beaten into second place by the great Jack NIcklaus.
We then go back to 1965 when Kel Nagle finished bridesmaid to Gary Player.
With recent form as a guide, our best chances will be Adam Scott who is in fine form and comes off a second place in last week's US Tour event and both Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby are finding their form at the right time.
The others are Steve Elkington, Craig Parry, Peter Lonard, Rod Pampling, Mark Hensby, Geoff Ogilvy, Nick OHern, Steve Allan, Steve Conran, Euan Walters and Richard Green.
Our two lefties in the field OHern and Green could well figure in the results with both showing good recent form and with the difficult Pinehurst No2 upside down saucer type greens demanding a great short game that both southpaws possess.
The Open was held at Pinehurst only six years ago with Payne Stewart claiming victory by holing an 18 foot par putt on the last hole to beat Phil Mickelson.
Tragically Stewart was killed in a plane crash six months after his victory so this week will be very emotional for many of the world's best players as Stewart was one of the most popular players on the US Tour.
There is an Australian connection with Stewart's wife Tracey being Mike Ferguson's sister and Stewart played in Australia during his early touring days.
Phil Mickelson will have good memories of Pinehurst No2 and has the short game to contend in this year's Championship.
Pinehurst No2 is 7214 yards in length par 70 with 52 fairway and 57 greenside bunkers to catch off line shots.
The holes to watch out for will be No 5 a 454 yard par 4 that in 1999 was the hardest hole averaging 4.54 and the easiest the par 5 fourth averaging 4.92.
Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia will all be in the mix on Sunday afternoon as they come down the stretch.