UNDERDOG Graeme Storm is just hours away from taking on golf’s top dogs at the US Open.
The Hartlepool star tees off at Pinehurst Golf & Country Club 617-yard 10th hole at 12.30pm (5.30pm GMT) alongside American David Oh and Alex Cejka, from Germany.
Storm will go into the 114th staging of the championship with absolutely no pressure on his 36-year-old shoulders.
After qualifying in style with a five-under-par total at Walton Heath, where he defeated two greats with five Majors between them, Padraig Harrington and Jose Maria Olazabal, he will not be short of confidence, despite a difficult year on the European Tour.
“There’s no expectation on me,” explained Storm, who is taking part in his second US Open.
“At a major championship nobody expects me to make the cut never mind do well, especially when you look at my results.
“On form I haven’t got a chance, but I might go there, relax and do well.”
Relaxation could be key for the Hartlepool Golf Club member - so too could be some happy memories from the past.
He has played a US Open before - at Winged Foot in 2006 - and has even led a Major in the States, the USPGA after a first-round 65 at Southern Hills in 2007.
One of Storm’s best
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results in the sport was a top 10 finish at the WGC World Championship event in Florida in 2008.
And he will be buoyed by the events of his previous US Open visit.
While he missed the cut, North-East neighbour Kenny Ferrie found himself in the mix for the title.
The Ashington golfer led the star-studded field for part of the third round before ending in a tie for sixth, three strokes behind winner Geoff Ogilvy.
So there is potential for the underdogs to have their day.
Storm is well aware that the last US Open champion at Pinehurst was an unheralded member of the European Tour - Michael Campbell.
The Kiwi won in 2005 at the North Caroline course, having booked his place for the event at a familiar location.
“The last US Open winner there was Michael Campbell, who qualified from Walton Heath,” said Storm.
“Maybe one of us from Walton Heath will spring a surprise this time, who knows?
“Unless you are Tiger Woods in his prime, you can’t predict a winner of the US Open, the courses are set up so tough.”
Playing in the big events, with the world’s elite will therefore not faze him.
Storm will have a familiar face on tee, 42-year-old German golfer Cejka, a four-time winner on the European Tour who now plays in America.
His other playing partner is 33-year-old American Oh, who is a competitor on the Japanese Tour.