Major season in the PGA Tour is in full swing! The third major of the year, the U.S. Open, will kick off this Thursday night (AEST) from the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links in California!
We have a full preview including some of our best tips for the 2019 U.S. Open below!
Back to back defending U.S. Open Champion, Brooks Koepka, will be attempting to become just the second person in history to win the title on three consecutive occasions after Willie Anderson achieved the feat all the way back in 1905. He’ll also be hunting back to back major wins after taking out the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black last month.
Pebble Beach Golf Links, the most famous public golf course in the United States and arguably the world, will play host to the U.S. Open for the sixth time in 2019. Traditionally, the course has hosted at least one U.S. Open every decade since the 70s, although this year will mark the second time this decade that it has done so.
The course hosts the annual AT&T Pro-Am, which was won by veteran Phil Mickelson this season, but golfers might as well be playing on a completely different course this week, as you can bet the USGA will have set it up to be a much harder test.
Usually a 6,800 yard, Par 72, the courses first alteration will be in length. It will play as a 7,000+, Par 71 this weekend, with the tradiational 509 yard, Par 5, 2nd hole this week playing as a par 4. Another major alteration will be the width of the fairways, which on some holes has been cut by half.
Arguably the most challenging aspect of Pebble Beach, however, is one that is not man made. The wind off the Pacific Ocean will separate the men from the boys this weekend and good course management when tackling it will be key.
The Pebble Beach greens are the smallest on tour, which makes it extremely difficult to find greens in regulation, particularly when the winds are high. Strong players from tee to green is our key focus this week.
As usual in a major championship, the field is absolutely stacked this week. 25 of the top 30 ranked players on the Fed Ex Cup list will tee off this weekend including all of the top ten ranked players in the world. Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson have finished top two in both majors so far this year and will be looking for more success as the first and second ranked players in the world respectively.
Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2000 in a record breaking performance that saw him finish 15 strokes clear of his nearest competitor. Tiger will be making his first start since the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago, looking to pick up his second major of the year after the historic win at Augusta.
The rest of the star studded field will be headlined by the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm and Matt Kuchar.
Phil Mickelson won at Pebble Beach earlier this year and is desperately seeking a U.S. Open trophy to complete his career grand slam. Another win at Pebble Beach for lefty would be a fairy-tale finish to the quest for the grand slam.
As we mentioned above, we’ll be targeting strong players from tee to green this weekend to combat the difficult course layout at Pebble Beach. One guy who we think represents great value is Justin Thomas ($29). JT has played just two tournaments since returning from a wrist injury and while he was a little shaky in his first start back at the Memorial Tournament, he was super impressive at the Canadian Open on the weekend.
Thomas finished T20 at the Canadian Open but it was his play from tee to green that really caught our eye. He finished behind only the eventual winner, Rory McIlroy, in shots gained from tee to green at the tournament and gave away most of his strokes on the putting green. If he can carry the same stroke making into this week and clean up some deficiencies on the putting surface, which shouldn’t be too difficult at Pebble Beach, we think he is a massive chance at great odds.
Another who it’s hard to look past this weekend is Dustin Johnson ($9.00). The No.2 ranked golfer in the world has some fantastic performances at the U.S. Open in the past, finishing in the top four in four of his last five starts including one win in 2016. DJ is also a regular at the AT&T Pro Am at Pebble Beach every year and won the tournament back to back in 2009 and 2010.
DJ has finished second in both major championships this year, so there’s no doubting his ability on the big stage. He is 4th overall on the PGA Tour this year in shots gained from tee to green and 3rd overall in shots gained off the tee. He also ranks in the top 20 in shots gained on approach and on the putting surface. Expect DJ to be around the mark on Sunday.
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