Horses for Courses: U.S. Open
June 11, 2019
By Mike Glasscott, PGATOUR.COM
- Phil Mickelson has won five times at Pebble Beach including this season's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Celebrating the 100th year of Pebble Beach Golf Links, our national championship returns to the west coast for a sixth time to crown a winner. The Monterrey Peninsula will provide the always stunning backdrop as the now the third major of the season takes center stage.
Brooks Koepka will look to add another chapter to his already impressive resume as he looks to join Willie Anderson (1903-1905) as the only players to win the U.S. Open in three consecutive years. He'll be chased by 155 pros, journeymen, qualifiers and amateurs who will be looking to carve out their piece of immortality on the California coast.
Pebble Beach Golf Links will stretch to 7,075 yards and play to par-71 but will hardly resemble its alter-ego that hosts the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am annually in February.
Gone are the generous fairway widths, pedestrian Poa annua green speeds and the lack of rough that allow Pro-Am rounds to end in less than six hours. Also gone is the par-5 second hole, which is now a par-4 and the fairway right of the tree in the fairway at No. 18.
Say hello to shrunken, narrow fairways, championship Stimpmeter speeds (12 feet) and ryegrass rough that will stand, in its lowest spots at three inches, and its deepest up to five inches. I've yet to mention the fescue that has dominated social media that the players have shared via social media!
While horses for courses are important this week, I'll remind gamers this is the full test of the bag, mind, body and spirit. It is not meant to be fun or even enjoyable, unlike the Crosby Clambake, and it shouldn't be to determine a major champion. The list of champions from the three previous visits should give gamers plenty of clues of what it will take this week to be victorious.
I will look at past U.S. Open performances as well at classic courses to help shape my opinion. I'm not going to compare Chambers Bay, Erin Hills and Pinehurst to Oakmont, Shinnecock and Pebble Beach as they are apples and oranges for my money.
The winner will take home the biggest chunk of the $12.5 million prize purse as $2.25 million will be written on the first-place check. Toss in 600 FedExCup Points, a 10-year exemption in this event plus a five-year exemption to every other major championship, THE PLAYERS and to all TOUR events and it is a truly life-changing event.
Recent Winners - Major Championships
2010 - Graeme McDowell (E): With only 18 rounds in the 60s for the week, it's hardly surprising McDowell was the only player to post level par. Dustin Johnson led after 54 holes on six-under-par after 66 on Saturday and looked primed to win his first major. A lost ball on No. 2 and another errant shot on No. 3 and he was five-over thru three holes and that was that. Woods, who began the final round two shots behind McDowell after 66 on Saturday, limped home in 75 to share fourth with Phil Mickelson. Matt Kuchar's 68 on Sunday was one of four but his vaulted him into the top 10 (T6).
Notables: McDowell didn't sign for worse than bogey during the week and ranked T3 in putts. ... Johnson was T1 in fairways and T76 of 80 in putting. ... Mickelson was T5 putts. ... Gregory Havret, playing in his first U.S. Open, was second. ... Brandt Snedeker cashed T8. ... Jim Furyk (T16) and Sergio Garcia (T22) also hit the top 25.
2000 - Tiger Woods (-12): I shouldn't have to fill in many details here as this is considered one of the greatest performances in the history of golf. Woods defeated Ernie Els by 15 shots and joined Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tom Kite as U.S. Open champions at Pebble Beach.
Notables: Mickelson, David Toms and Mike Weir all shared T16, while Garcia was T46 and Furyk T60.
Key stat leaders
Golfers around the top 25 in each statistic on the 2018-19 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. This is the 30th event of the season.
* - Top 10 at U.S. Open since 2010
x - Played at either 2010 or 2000 Pebble Beach U.S. Open
** - U.S. Open Champion (year)
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
1 **Rory McIlroy (2011)
2 Patrick Cantlay
3 *Hideki Matsuyama (T2, 2017)
4 **Dustin Johnson (2016)
5 *Justin Thomas
6 Paul Casey
7 *Adam Scott (T4, 2015)
8 *Tommy Fleetwood (2, 2018)
9 **Tiger Woods (2008, 2002, 2000)
10 Gary Woodland (T23 best in eight trips)
11 Byeong Hun An
12 **Brooks Koepka (2017, 2018)
13 *Sergio Garcia (T5, 2016)
15 *Matt Kuchar
16 Emiliano Grillo
17 *Xander Schauffele (T6, 2018; T2017)
18 **Webb Simpson (2012)
19 *Keegan Bradley (T4, 2014)
21 **Lucas Glover (2009; MC last seven)
22 Jon Rahm
23 *Henrik Stenson (T4, 2014)
24 Bubba Watson
25 **Jim Furyk (2003)
1 Patrick Cantlay
2 **Webb Simpson (2012)
3 **Lucas Glover (2009)
4 Aaron Baddeley
6 Brian Stuard (0-4)
7 *Tommy Fleetwood
8 **Jim Furyk (T2, 2016)
9 *Matt Kuchar
11 *Hideki Matsuyama
13 Si Woo Kim
15 **Dustin Johnson (2016)
17 **Ernie Els (1994, 1997)
18 Marc Leishman
19 Rory Sabbatini
20 Roberto Castro (0-5)
21 Bubba Watson
24 *Adam Scott
26 Francesco Molinari
Strokes Gained: Putting
1 Justin Harding
2 Andrew Putnam (MC as amateur 2010)
3 **Jordan Spieth (2015)
5 **Graeme McDowell (2010)
8 *Brandt Snedeker (5 top 10s in 12 starts)
8 *Jason Day (5 top 10s in 8 starts)
10 Aaron Baddeley
11 **Justin Rose (2013)
12 Kiradech Aphibarnrat
14 **Dustin Johnson (2016)
15 *Rickie Fowler (3 top 10s in last 6)
21 *Adam Scott
22 Harris English
24 *Shane Lowry (T2, 2016)
26 Kevin Kisner
Recent Winners - Classic U.S. Open Tracks
Shinnecock Hills, 2018: Brooks Koepka (281; +1): A brutal challenge, Shinnecock Hills played almost 7,500 yards with wind-swept, lightning-fast Poa annua greens. Koepka bombed (T55, Fairways) and gouged (4th, GIR) and putted (5th per GIR) his way to victory. Not many will argue that Shinnecock is a proper test of championship golf.
Oakmont, 2016: Dustin Johnson (276; -4): Only four players broke par as the ribbon fairways, thick rough and the best greens on the planet caused havoc for the field. Lowry lead by four after 54 but settled for T2 after 76 while Johnson posted 69 in his clinical finish, which included a penalty. Pittsburgh's favorite son Jim Furyk closed with 66 for T2. Others in the top 10 included Garcia (T5), Branden Grace (T5), Kevin Na (7th) and T8 Jason Day, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson on the Par-70 7,219-yard classic layout.