It’s the perfect combination of world class golf and vistas as the 119th U.S. Open takes place this week at Pebble Beach.
It will be the sixth U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and the 12th USGA championship at Pebble. The other opens were in 1972 (Jack Nicklaus winner), 1982 (Tom Watson), 1992 (Tom Kite), 2000 (Tiger Woods), and 2010 (Graeme McDowell).
The 1972 Open was the first held at public golf course and was highlighted by Nicklaus’ 1-iron at the 17th hole that left him with a six-inch birdie putt.
In 2000 Woods put on a show, winning by 15 shots and demolishing the field.
It’s not the longest course, but the greens are small with heavy rough surrounding them. The heavy, coastal air should keep the course from falling to the mistakes the USGA makes with letting greens dry out too much, making it almost unfair.
For an in-depth analysis of the course, please check out our other story Todd Fischer breaks down Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open!
Brooks Koepka has won the last two U.S. Opens and seeks a historic third straight win.
The tournament gets underway early Thursday on the West Coast and here are some of what I think are the most interesting tee times for Thursday.
Hole No. 1 (all times PST)
7:40 a.m. Haotong Li, Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes
7:51 a.m. Zach Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Ernie Els
8:02 a.m. Rickie Fowler, Si Woo Kim, Jason Day
1:47 p.m. Francesco Molinari, Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka
2:09 p.m. Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Tiger Woods
Hole No. 10
7:51 a.m. John Rahm, Marc Leishman, Rory McIlroy
8:02 a.m. Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner, Bryson DeChambeau
8:13 a.m. Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell
8:24 a.m. Hideki Matsuyama, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood
1:47 p.m. Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar
These are the groups I will be keenly watching through the first couple of rounds.
So, who wins?
It is easy pick the names Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods and say the winner comes out of there.
I tend to agree that the winner should come from those three, but two other names come to mind when considering the top contenders in Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
McIlroy just sizzled over the weekend in Canada to the win the Canadian Open, coming into this week in sensational form. Spieth, who won the last U.S. Open on the West Coast when he took the title at Chambers Bay, seems to be finding his form and he has won the AT&T before.
The sentimental favorite will once again be Phil Mickelson. The Open is the only major Mickelson has not won and with his win earlier this year at the AT&T put him the conversation.
I am going with Johnson and Spieth as my top two choices, with Woods a close third. Koepka must be mentioned among the favorites, but what concerns me is the Poa annua greens, a surface he is not fond of and he usually skips not just the AT&T, but other tournaments that feature the surface.
In the Open you must be completely dialed in and any hint of discomfort will cost the player.
By Dennis Miller