Highlights: Quietly climbed to No. 3 on this year's money list, behind only Woods and Elkington. Runner-up four times last year, earned $1,055,050, most in season on PGA Tour without victory. Broke five-year winless drought at Freeport-McDermott Classic in New Orleans the week before this year's Masters. Steady, but rarely in hunt at the majors.
Did you know?: Faxon is interested in all sports, except hunting and fishing.
The skinny: The tour's most-celebrated putter needs to hit it a bit straighter to be in contention.
PGA Tour victories: 12
PGA Tour career earnings: $8,727,365 through 1997 Memorial
Best U.S. Open: Tied for third in 1991
Highlights: Best year was 1992, won Masters, two other tournaments and more than $1.3 million. Only major win included tee shot on No.12 at Augusta that should have rolled into Rae's Creek, but stayed on bank. Two-time winner of The Players Championship. Recurring back problems forced withdrawal at last year's U.S. Open.
Did you know?: CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz was one of Couples' college roommates.
The skinny: The odds would be a lot shorter if Couples' back wasn't troubling him again.
Residence: Orlando, Fla.
College: Wake Forest
PGA Tour victories: 7
PGA Tour career earnings: $7,296,310 through Memorial.
Best U.S. Open: Tied for fifth in 1993
Highlights: Led after two rounds of the Memorial last weekend, but faded to third when he injured his back and then withdrew from the Kemper. Yet to win a major, but came excruciatingly close in 1989, missed short putt and playoff to Faldo at Masters. Four Top 10 finishes and in top 21 in seven of 14 U.S. Opens.
Did you know?: Hoch has a Communications degree but rarely talks to the media.
The skinny: Has always been a steady player in the Open, but will he be long enough to win at this site?
Residences: London and Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
PGA Tour victories: 4
PGA Tour career earnings: $3,424,279 through Memorial
Best U.S. Open: Tied for seventh last year
Highlights: Won rain-shortened Memorial last weekend. Sixteen wins overseas, but only four in United States, two in Buick Classic. PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1993, two wins in 1995, when he earned more than $1 million. Regular on the leader board in big events in 1996, as he finished among the top 11 in the U.S. Open, British Open, PGA and the Players Championships.
Did you know?: Singh is Fiji's only world-class golfer.
The skinny: Coming off win at Memorial, he certainly has the game and temperament.
Residence: Windermere, Fla.
College: Long Beach State
PGA Tour victories: 14
PGA Tour career earnings: $8,293,071 through Memorial
Best U.S. Open: Tied for third in 1988
Highlights: Woods isn't only player with back-to-back wins this year. Hottest player in January, held off Woods to win AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for fifth time, followed with Buick Invitational the next week. Spotty record in majors, with seven Top 10 finishes. Missed six straight Open cuts from 1989 to 1994.
Did you know?: O'Meara is a neighbor of Woods and the Mariners' Ken Griffey.
The skinny: Starting to putt a little better, maybe finishing in a 16th-place tie after missing seven of the previous eight years was a sign of things to come.
Residence: Phoenix, Ariz.
PGA Tour victories: 6
PGA Tour career earnings: $3,448,466 through Memorial
Best U.S. Open: Won last year
Highlights: Defending champion beat Lehman and Love by a stroke last year. Comeback Player of the Year hadn't won on the PGA Tour since 1989, as a motorbike accident and an injury while tearing up carpet in his home jeopardized his career. Developed reverse overlap grip to compensate for injury. Won at Phoenix Open this year.
Did you know?: Three of Jones' tour wins occurred in 1989.
The skinny: Looking to become the first player to repeat as U.S. Open champ since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989.
Residence: Orlando, Fla.
College: Southern Methodist
PGA Tour victories: 9
PGA Tour career earnings: $8,212,823 through Memorial
Best U.S. Open: Won in 1991
Highlights: With plus-fours that recall more elegant era, most distinctively-dressed player on Tour. Up and down in U.S. Opens. Won in 1991, second in '93 and two Top 10 finishes while in 20s, but he's also missed four cuts. First-round leader with 67 at Oakland Hills last year, faded on weekend. Also took PGA in 1989. One win since 1991.
Did you know?: Stewart met and married his wife, Tracey, in Malaysia.
The skinny: Won 1991 Open on another Rees Jones' redesign.
Pub Date: 6/08/97