Pebble Beach and the U.S. Open. They go together like Phil Mickelson and hitting bombs.
It's America's national championship, the winner is scheduled to be crowned on Father's Day and television coverage is in prime time for most of the country. What more could you want?
OK, so Mickelson also is getting his latest chance to complete the career grand slam and at a course where he's won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am five times. The only wrinkle is that hitting bombs won't be in the equation to prevail for him and the others in the 156-man field.
For matters on what it will take to contend, how Pebble Beach is set up for the 119th edition of the U.S. Open and more, continue reading beneath the special Power Rankings that includes every golfer in the field.
POWER RANKINGS: U.S. OPEN
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 20 Tommy Fleetwood 19 Justin Thomas 18 Justin Rose 17 Hideki Matsuyama 16 Jordan Spieth 15 Graeme McDowell 14 Xander Schauffele 13 Shane Lowry 12 Rickie Fowler 11 Adam Scott 10 Matt Kuchar 9 Jason Day 8 Brandt Snedeker 7 Dustin Johnson 6 Tiger Woods 5 Phil Mickelson 4 Webb Simpson 3 Patrick Cantlay 2 Rory McIlroy 1 Brooks Koepka
Kevin Na … So much for the concern over a fractured pinky that opened 2019. He's now rested since winning the Charles Schwab Challenge on similarly short Colonial Country Club. He led the field in greens in regulation, proximity to the hole, strokes gained: approach-the-green and par-4 scoring. In 11 appearances in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he's risen for a pair of top fives and another two top 20s, including a T20 last year. Also finished along in seventh at Oakmont in the 2016 U.S. Open.
Consider this grouping of 19 as a Power Rankings Plus. For various reasons, each golfer warrants attention as a threat, but each also stops short of cracking the top 20 and the Wild Card.
Ranked in order of Rob's confidence (* - former champion; 2010 U.S. Open finish in parentheses)
Henrik Stenson (T29)
Francesco Molinari (MC)
Ian Poulter (T47)
Gary Woodland (MC)
*Martin Kaymer (T8)
Marc Leishman (MC)
*Jim Furyk (T16)
Rafa Cabrera Bello (T47)
Paul Casey (T40)
Si Woo Kim
The U.S. Open presents a top-heavy field, so in a full-field Power Rankings, stretching to 26 Sleepers is possible. Ignore the usual restrictions for qualification such as recent and prior winners, recent team participants and those inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Ranked in order of Rob's confidence (* - former champion ; ^ - debutant; 2010 U.S. Open finish in parentheses)
*Lucas Glover (T58)
Jason Dufner (T33)
Andrew Putnam (MC)
Hao Tong Li
Rory Sabbatini (MC)
^Erik van Rooyen
Sixty-one golfers are split into the two subcategories below. Placement is relative to fit, form and other variables.
Listed alphabetically (^ - debutant; # - amateur with World Amateur Golf Ranking in brackets; 2010 U.S. Open finish in parentheses)
Aaron Baddeley (MC)
Joseph Bramlett (MC)
^#Viktor Hovland [1st]
David Toms (T33)
Listed alphabetically (* - former champion; ^ - debutant; 2010 U.S. Open finish in parentheses)
Byeong Hun An (MC)
Brian Davis (MC)
Luke Donald (T47)
*Ernie Els (3rd)
Sergio Garcia (T22)
Charles Howell III
Billy Hurley III
Zach Johnson (T77)
Richard H. Lee
Louis Oosthuizen (MC)
Mike Weir (T80)
So much is respected for the challenge of a first-time participant of the Masters that it's often overlooked at the drought for a first-time participant to win the U.S. Open. If you've yet to cross paths with this terrific tidbit, then you're sure to encounter at some point during your local trivia night: Francis Ouimet is the most recent to prevail as a debutant. As an amateur, he survived a three-man playoff in 1913.
Listed alphabetically (# - amateur with World Amateur Golf Ranking in brackets)
#Devon Bling 
#Chandler Eaton 
#Austin Eckroat 
#Daniel Hillier 
#Noah Norton 
#Kevin O'Connell 
#Jovan Rebula 
#Michael Thorbjornsen 
#Spencer Tibbits 
#Brandon Wu 
#Cameron Young 
Four of the 16 amateurs in the field have appeared in the U.S. Open at least once before. They are grouped here below.
Listed alphabetically (with World Amateur Golf Ranking in brackets)
Luis Gagne 
Stewart Hagestad 
Matt Parziale 
Chun An Yu 
NOTE: Eddie Pepperell is the only qualifier not to commit. He's resting a sore back.
Pebble Beach's first spin as host of the U.S. Open was in 1972. This week's edition is the sixth in its history. Because the layout needs more than just a few months to be ready for a tournament of this prominence, the fairways for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am four months ago were narrower than usual (about 28-32 yards wide). As a result, the field averaged just 8.69 (of 14) fairways hit per round in the non-major, roughly one less on average as compared to 2018.
While that's a significant drop, it goes with the territory in the year when the United States Golf Association reserves Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open. The previous low for fairways hit at Pebble Beach in the non-major (9.11 per round) occurred in 2010, the last time the U.S. Open was last held on the historic track.
Since then, Pebble Beach has undergone numerous changes and upgrades to evolve into as modern a test for the class of 2019, but overall par stays the same; that is, for the U.S. Open.
With the second hole playing as a par 4 in the major (as opposed to a par 5 in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am), total par for the U.S. Open is 71. No. 2 is 14 yards longer than it tested in 2010 and the par-4 ninth is 21 yards longer thanks to a new tee. Now tipping at 7,075 yards, the course is 35 yards longer than it was nine years ago.
Immediately flanking the trimmer landing strips is a first cut of rough as long as one-and-three-quarters inches. With slick Poa annua greens averaging only 3,500 square feet, the premium will be on finding the shortest of grass off the tee so that approaches hold. With wispy primary rough exceeding a measurable range (hip high?) for the most wayward of drives, there's going to be quite of bit of medicine swallowed.
This reality goes part and parcel with the U.S. Open, but especially at Pebble Beach. Of all par 71s since the 2000 season, the U.S. Opens in 2000 and 2010 rank a respective 1-2 in highest scoring averages at 75.359 and 74.983.
Because it's exposed on the Pacific Ocean, the elements impact scoring here than most places. However, Mother Nature is rolling out the red carpet of conditions. It'll be cool with daytimes highs maybe eclipsing 60 degrees and only passing clouds will obscure sunlight that will dominate the tournament. That leaves wind as the primary challenge, which benefits preparation, experience and course management.
As of midday Monday, 33 in the field competed in the 2010 U.S. Open and 42 laced it up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year. Fourteen played in both.
After 36 holes are complete, the low 60 and ties will survive the cut and play two more rounds. If two or more golfers lead at the conclusion of 72 holes, a two-hole aggregate playoff on Nos. 17 and 18 will be used to determine the champion. If that's not enough, the traditional hole-by-hole playoff will be employed beginning on 17 and alternating with 18 as necessary.
Among the litany of spoils, the winner will receive 600 FedExCup points, a 10-year exemption into the U.S. Open, exemptions into the next five editions of the other three majors and fully exempt status on PGA TOUR through 2023-24. Oh, and he'll also pocket $2.25 million of a record prize fund of $12.5 million.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesdays.