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Tee talk: The Italian is one of the most understated players on the world stage. He’s very straight off the tee, though not terribly long. His putter is not always the strongest club in the bag, though he showed his potential in Shanghai two years ago with a fabulous duel with Lee Westwood to win the HSBC Champions.

LEE WESTWOOD

Age: 39.

Country: England.

World ranking: 3.

Official wins: 34.

Majors: None.

U.S. Open highlight: Missing a playoff by only one shot at Torrey Pines.

U.S. Open lowlight: Faced with a 15-foot birdie putt to get into a playoff at Torrey Pines, he left it short.

Tee talk: Westwood is in a much better frame of mind this year. He is playing much better, has worked hard on his chipping (a key for the U.S. Open) and has reasonably good memories of Olympic from 1998, when he tied for seventh. At 39, his window to win a major is closing at medium speed.

RORY MCILROY

Age: 23.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 2.

Official wins: 5.

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