The 119th United States Open Championship from Pebble Beach Golf Links in Carmel, California, should be an absolute classic. Now the third Major Championship of 2019 as part of the new PGA Tour schedule, the U.S. Open is synonymous with tough scoring and mental toughness. The last time we were at Pebble Beach for a U.S. Open was back in 2010, when Graeme McDowell captured the title ahead of a leaderboard which included Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Let’s hope for another star-studded leaderboard this week.
For those wanting Pebble Beach specialists, let me point you in the direction of our Pebble Beach 2011-2019 Average Score research – it captures players’ scores across 9 Pebble Beach National Pro-Ams post 2010 U.S. Open on this week’s host course.
World Number 1 and defending champion Brooks Koepka, plus last week’s RBC Canadian Open champion Rory McIlroy, head the betting at 8/1. But as is the norm these days at the highest level of golf, the likes of Pebble specialist Dustin Johnson, Masters champion Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler are all 25/1 or shorter in what looks to be a very open affair.
Before we talk U.S. Open, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System this week will be considerable. Welcome to new visitors, listeners and viewers and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday), our Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular 4,800+ member private Golf Betting System group on Facebook – you can Join Here.
Course Guide: Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted 5 United States Open Championships across 1972 (Jack Nicklaus), 1982 (Tom Watson), 1992 (Tom Kite), 2000 (Tiger Woods) and 2010 (Graeme McDowell). Most of us will be able to remember G-Mac winning around an amazingly firm and fast golf course 9 years ago – where his Even/284 score was good enough to capture his first and to this point only Major title. Interestingly the 4 previous U.S. Open renewals were all won with scores below par. Now we all know Pebble Beach from the AT&T National Pro-Am event, but beware, the course will be a totally different beast for this week.
Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California: Designer: Neville and Grant 1919 with Connor and Palmer re-design 2007; Course Type: Coastal, Classical, Technical; Par: 71; Length: 7,075 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 1; Fairways: Perennial Rye; Rough: Perennial Rye 2″; Greens: 3,500 sq.ft average Poa Annua; Tournament Stimp: +11ft; Course Scoring Average 2010 U.S. Open: 74.98 (+3.98), Rank 1 of 52 PGA Tour courses.
Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Pebble Beach and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:
- Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30; 350:26.
- Hamilton: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:29; 325:27; 350:28.
- Muirfield Village: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:35; 300:30; 325:26; 350:30.
- Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:25; 300:26; 325:25; 350:22.
- Trinity Forest: 250 yards from tee: 58 yards wide; 275:54; 300:56; 325:60; 350:57.
- Quail Hollow: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:32; 300:31; 325:30; 350:29.
- Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 31 yards wide; 275:25; 300:20; 325:26; 350:22.
- Oaks Course: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:29; 325:27; 350:26.
- Copperhead: 250 yards from the tee: 24 yards wide; 275:20; 300:21; 325:23 350:19.
- TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:33; 300:32; 325:29 350:20.
- Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:34; 325:39 350:29.
Course Overview: Pebble Beach Golf Links is undoubtedly the United States most well-known coastal golf course. The PGA Tour visits these parts every season, playing the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, so we know the course far more intimately than most U.S. Open venues. But holes like the Postage Stamp par-3 7th are famous, or should I say infamous, around the globe, and the par-4 8th at Pebble, hugging the Carmel Bay cliffs, with an approach over the cliffs has been described as the best par-4 in golf by none other than Jack Nicklaus. At just a smidge over 7,000 yards off the back tees, Pebble Beach Golf Links doesn’t intimidate by yardage numbers, instead this amazingly contoured golf course, which for stretches is played on cliff edges, taxes the best in the world by its sheer difficulty and total openness to the elements.
The scale of the task at Pebble Beach cannot be underestimated. Yes Tiger Woods shot an incredible -12/ 272 total to win the 2000 U.S. Open here in 2000 by a record 15 shots, but that’s certainly not the norm. In fact across both 2000 and 2010 renewals, only Woods has shot under par. Graeme McDowell’s win came at E/284 when he won by a single shot from Frenchman Gregory Havret. With G-Mac and Havret taking the top 2 spots, that in itself highlights that the Pebble test is somewhat specialised.
Naturally the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is hosted here at Pebble with players who make the cut playing 36 holes here on the classical, coastal course. Now the National Pro-Am is played in February and you’ll see some fundamental changes for the U.S. Open. A 6,800 yard Par 72 is the course format for the National, but with the USGA in control of the course it becomes a 7,075 yard Par 71, with the 500+ yard 2nd playing as a stretching par-4 rather than an easy par-5 for the National.
The June date also means that Pebble can really show its teeth. If the USGA have their way, the course will be firm and fast. Firm conditions means that the ball can run out up to 40 yards on the fairways and across holes such as the par-5 6th and the par-4s on 9 and 10, anything leaking right off the tee will run off over the cliffs. Naturally firm and unreceptive Poa Annua greens also cause mayhem here. Firstly at an average of 3,500 square feet, Pebble features the smallest green complexes in professional golf. When those greens reject approach shots, expect very low Greens in Regulation numbers. On top of that scrambling becomes very difficult, as do any downhill putts, which become treacherous. However it’s worth reading USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships John Bodenhamer’s comments below, where he states that we won’t see the same high stimpmeter readings which we saw in 2010. That suggests to me that a -4/280 to -6/278 total might be the target score required in 2019.
Still, only those who use course management, both off the tee and on approaches i.e. missing greens on the correct side, in tandem with strategising approaches to leave uphill putts, will contend. Of course as this is a U.S. Open, expect thinner fairways and thicker but graduated rough which will penalise the wayward to an almost automatic bogey degree. To add insult to injury, Pebble is also renowned for having some of the hardest bunkering in professional golf. For full details on course changes between the National Pro-Am and the U.S. Open, this article is excellent.
Winners: 2018: Brooks Koepka (+1); 2017: Brooks Koepka (-16); 2016: Dustin Johnson (-4); 2015: Jordan Spieth (-5); 2014: Martin Kaymer (-9); 2013: Justin Rose (+1); 2012: Webb Simpson (+1); 2011: Rory McIlroy (-16); 2010: Graeme McDowell (E); 2009: Lucas Glover (-4).
Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Stats | Recent Majors Stats | Pebble Beach Stats.
Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Kuchar, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele and Justin Rose.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to The Masters, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
- Driving Accuracy: 1) Chez Reavie; 2) Justin Harding; 3) Brendon Todd; 4) Webb Simpson / Brian Stuard; 6) Joel Dahmen; 7) Jason Dufner; 8) Henrik Stenson; 9) Kyle Stanley; 10) Francesco Molinari; 11) Emiliano Grillo; 12) Paul Casey / Matthew Fitzpatrick / Tyrrell Hatton; 15) Matt Kuchar; 16) Kevin Kisner; 17) Zach Johnson; 18) Brandt Snedeker; 19) Jim Furyk; 20) Billy Horschel.
- Greens in Regulation: 1) Dustin Johnson; 2) Jason Dufner; 3)Tommy Fleetwood / Adam Scott; 5) Brooks Koepka / Henrik Stenson; 7) Emiliano Grillo; 8) Aaron Wise; 9) Keegan Bradley / Rory McIlroy; 11) Paul Casey / Tyrrell Hatton / Haotong Li; 14) Webb Simpson / Tiger Woods; 16) Justin Rose; 17) Jim Furyk / Billy Horschel / Jhonattan Vegas; 20) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Marc Leishman / Rory Sabbatini.
- Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Patrick Cantlay; 2) Andrew Putnam; 3) Jordan Spieth; 4) Dustin Johnson; 5) Hideki Matsuyama; 6) Gary Woodland; 7) Aaron Baddeley / Luke Donald; 9) Haotong Li; 10) Justin Rose; 11) Matt Jones; 12) Webb Simpson; 13) Jason Day / Brandt Snedeker / Erik van Rooyen; 16) Shane Lowry / Kevin Na; 18) Martin Kaymer / Brooks Koepka; 20) Kiradech Aphibarnrat / Marc Leishman / Emiliano Grillo.
Winners & Prices: 2018: Koepka 25/1; 2017: Koepka 45/1; 2016: Dustin Johnson 16/1; 2015: Spieth 9/1; 2014: Kaymer 40/1; 2013: Rose 28/1; 2012: Simpson 80/1; 2011: McIlroy 22/1; 2010: McDowell 80/1. Average: 38/1.
Weather Forecast: Latest weather forecast for Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, is here. 62mm of rain fell in this part of the world in May, and nothing significant has fallen since the 26th May. With no precipitation forecast for tournament week, I’m expecting the firm and fast ground conditions that the USGA want. The other factors which I think are worthy of note for punters this week are the temperatures, which reach a maximum of only 19 degrees Celsius Thursday and Friday. From there the wind picks up just a little to 12mph maximum and temperatures fall to 15 degrees Celsius. Could be the Open Championship rather than the U.S. Open.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 2 winners here across the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Opens gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
- 2010 – Graeme McDowell (E). 303 yards (7th), 64.3% fairways (43rd), 58.3% greens in regulation (13th), 50.0% scrambling (10th), 1.64 putts per GIR (9th), ball striking 9th, all-round 2nd.
- 2000 – Tiger Woods (-12). 299 yards (1st), 73.2% fairways (14th), 70.8% greens in regulation (1st), 66.7 % scrambling (2nd), 1.59 putts per GIR (4th), ball striking 1st, all-round 1st.
Tournament Skill Average:
- Driving Distance: 4th, Driving Accuracy: 29th, Greens in Regulation: 7th, Scrambling: 6th, Putting Average 7th, Ball Striking: 5th, All-Round: 2nd.
Here are some comments about Pebble Beach and how it will play from the tournament organising PGA of America:
John Bodenhamer (USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships): “Changes between 2010 and 2019? We have a new tee on No9 to help encourage use of driver, which is the way the hole was intended to be. You’ll see shifted fairway lines back to the left on No 11, where they were further to the right in 2010. We have 4 restored putting greens on 9, 13, 14 and 17. They are just a restoration of what we would have seen in the 1972 U.S.Open.
What is also different this year is that we have engaged more past champions coming into this U.S. Open and really doubled-down on listening. We are never going to make every player happy, we know that. But I think we do need to listen to those voices and hear what they have to say. Then make the decision as to how we set the golf course up. Our guiding stars are to present a tough test, so they win something special and to follow what the original architect intended.
I have talked to hundreds of players, I have had conversations with 7 or 8 of our past champions. Ernie Els, Curtis Strange and Graeme McDowell and others. I want to know what they think. And so I think what has happened over the years is that the guys have pent up frustration and the USGA haven’t been there for them. Shame on us. Now we are there for them. It’s not going to change overnight, but we are there for the long term.
We have Jason Gore on-board, who has played over 250 rounds on this golf course. Won a California Amateur here. I think the set-up will be more informed by players. The biggest challenge will be the weather. If we get really windy conditions we will need to manage things with a combination of green speeds, firmness, rough heights. I think we will be slower this year with greens speeds which gives us new hole locations. They will still be quick, but we will start them off a little slower. It’s important with these tiny putting greens, if it get’s really windy and blustery they get crusty real quickly. So we will pay real attention to hydration.”
So let’s take a view from players from the 2010 U.S. Open and what specific skills it requires:
Graeme McDowell: “This is one of the special places in world golf. There’s a lot of golf courses in the world that kind of give you the goose bumps when you’re playing them. Sort of first tee at St. Andrews, maybe the 17th at St. Andrews, here, Augusta, obviously.
But when you’re walking down 7, 8, 9, 10, here it just is a beautiful place to play golf. And obviously to have your name at the top of the leaderboard of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach is a special feeling. But you’re out there and the golf course has got some teeth, so you’re really trying to keep your wits about you.
It’s like heaven and hell for sure. How do you keep hell out of the equation? You don’t get above the hole. That’s, that’s the number one key to this golf course. Obviously finding the fairways is a big key here; and from there, like I say, you’ve really got to be smart coming into the greens. They’re very putt able until you start getting above the hole, like I say. And like on 9 today, I mean I just have no putt there. I raised my first putt off the green and you’re in big trouble. I mean it’s, like I say, the golf course is playable from below the hole. You start missing the greens in or around the rough, the rough’s very wiry, very thick around the greens. So you got to be smart, you got to leave the ball in the correct position to give yourself a chance to make par or perhaps better, hopefully.
The putter’s been pretty kind to me. I’ve made some nice putts. But I felt like I played the golf course properly. I feel like I’ve been disciplined with my game plan. I hit 2-iron off 18 yesterday and I hit driver off 18 today. So I’m really adapting to what the golf course is throwing me. I think Mike Davis sets a golf course up really, really well. He moved some tee boxes around today, really gave us something to think about. Like 18 was moved forward. And I decided that, back into the wind, that I wasn’t going to hit driver, but today there wasn’t as much wind and like I say the tee box was up and all of a sudden my game plan’s got to change. So I made a few nice putts, but generally gave myself a ton of looks at birdie just by playing smart golf.”
Phil Mickelson: “I think guys who cherish the U.S. Open feel that way about Pebble Beach, and I think guys who love the British Open feel that way about St. Andrews. No. I think this is the greatest place for a golfer to hold an Open to be able to play one of the most beautiful golf courses and have it be in U.S. Open conditions. No, this is so much fun and I don’t want the weekend to end. I want to keep playing. In terms of the greens, They’re not Augusta smooth, no. But the big thing for me was leaving the ball underneath the hole. The putts I made they were all uphill. They were all putts I could be aggressive on and get them on, get them rolling on line. The one that I couldn’t was the 4-footer on 9. And the ball kind of waffled off at the hole. It looked like it was going to go in and it just went off. And that’s going to happen out here. But if you have uphill putts you can hit them firm enough to hold their line.”
Tiger Woods: “ Keys to putting on poa, you have to hit the ball solidly. You can’t mishit putts on poa and expect it to go in. You have to hit pure putts because you know it’s going to bounce. A lot of the guys who grew up playing poa feel very comfortable with that. It’s like guys who play on Bermuda grass. If you grew up playing on Bermuda grass you’ll have no problem playing on Bermuda. Look at most of the guys who have won here at AT&T are west coast guys. But it’s one of those things where you got to get up there and hit it and hit it flush. And you know it’s going to bounce. You’re going to hit good putts and it’s going to bounce outside the hole. That’s just the way it goes. Well generally it’s the highest rough we play all year, it’s the narrowest fairways, the hardest greens, the trickiest pins. As far as the setup you just have to be so patient. You just have to understand that it’s a long haul. It’s a long grind. It’s different than most Major Championships. You’re not going to make a lot of birdies and the whole idea is to not make any big numbers because it’s hard to get them back.
I think how it’s been set up this year is much more different than what we played in 2000. How Mike sets it up is very different than how Tom set it up. And it’s just, it’s, you know, with the graduated rough system that they have implemented now, fairways are much wider, but then again they’re a lot faster. And the holes are much longer. Where they could put length. And even though it’s the shortest U.S. Open we play, but it’s still — it’s getting awfully quick out there. Just in the last couple days. And if they don’t put any water on these things come Sunday it’s going to be very interesting..”
Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 9 US Open winners:
- 2018 – Brooks Koepka: Round 1: 46th, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 1st.
- 2017 – Brooks Koepka: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
- 2016 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
- 2015 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
- 2014 – Martin Kaymer: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
- 2013 – Justin Rose: Round 1: 16th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 5th.
- 2012 – Webb Simpson: Round 1: 23rd, Round 2: 29th, Round 3: 8th.
- 2011 – Rory McIlroy: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
- 2010 – Graeme McDowell: Round 1: 10th, Round 2 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
Shots From the Lead: Below are the winners of the U.S. Open and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:
- 2018 – Brooks Koepka: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: level.
- 2017 – Brooks Koepka: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 1 back.
- 2016 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 4 back.
- 2015 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: level.
- 2014 – Martin Kaymer: Round 1: 3 ahead, Round 2: 6 ahead, Round 3: 5 ahead.
- 2013 – Justin Rose: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 2 back.
- 2012 – Webb Simpson: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 4 back.
- 2011 – Rory McIlroy: Round 1: 3 ahead, Round 2: 6 ahead, Round 3: 8 ahead.
- 2010 – Graeme McDowell: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 2 ahead, Round 3: 3 back.
Incoming form of winners since 2010:
- Brooks Koepka: 30th TPC Southwind/2nd Colonial/11th TPC Sawgrass/42nd Quail.
- Brooks Koepka: 37th TPC Southwind/31st Memorial/50th TPC4S/16th TPC Sawgrass.
- Dustin Johnson: 5th TPC Southwind/3rd Memorial/12th TPC4S/28th TPC Sawgrass.
- Jordan Spieth: 3rd Memorial/30th TPC4S/2nd Colonial/MC TPC Sawgrass.
- Martin Kaymer: 12th Wentworth/29th TPC4S/1st TPC Sawgrass/18th Quail.
- Justin Rose: 8th Memorial/50th Wentworth/MC TPC Sawgrass/15th TPC Louisiana.
- Webb Simpson: MC Memorial/MC TPC Sawgrass/ 4th Quail/13th New Orleans.
- Rory McIlroy: 5th Memorial/24th Wentworth/MC Quail/3rd Kuala Lumpur.
- Graeme McDowell: 1st Celtic Manor/4th Madrid/28th Wentworth/26th TPC Sawgrass.
First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.
- 2018 – Henley/D Johnson/Piercy/Poulter – 2AM/2PM -1/69 – 125/1, 16/1, 200/1 & 100/1.
- 2017 – Fowler – AM -7/65 – 40/1.
- 2016 – Landry – AM -4/66.
- 2015 – D Johnson/Stenson – Both AM -5/65.
- 2014 – Kaymer – PM -5/65.
- 2013 – Mickelson – AM -3/67.
- 2012 – M Thompson – AM -4/66.
- 2011 – McIlroy – PM -6/65.
- 2010 – Casey/de Jonge/Micheel – All PM -2/69.
For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Poa Annua and Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:
- 10 – Dustin Johnson.
- 6 – Bubba Watson.
- 5 – Phil Mickelson.
- 4 – Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Brandt Snedeker, Tiger Woods.
- 3 – Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker.
- 2 – Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Scott Piercy, Jordan Spieth.
- 1 – Aaron Baddeley, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Cantlay, Jason Dufner, Emiliano Grillo, J.B. Holmes, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, Shane Lowry, Hideki Matsuyama, Graeme McDowell, Andrew Putnam, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland.
Let’s start with a list of players in the field this week who have experience of Pebble Beach in U.S. Open conditions. 2000 naturally saw Tiger Woods win by a 15-stroke margin from Ernie Els who is also in this week’s field. Phil Mickelson (16th), David Toms (16th), Mike Weir (16th), Sergio Garcia (46th) and Jim Furyk (60th) all played the weekend. Aaron Baddeley and Rory Sabbatini missed the cut.
2010 was won by Graeme McDowell with Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson all in a tie for 3rd. Matt Kuchar (6th), Dustin Johnson (8th), Martin Kaymer (8th) and Brandt Snedeker (8th) rounded out the top 10. Jim Furyk (16th), Sergio Garcia (22nd), Henrik Stenson (29th), Jason Dufner (33rd), David Toms (33rd), Paul Casey (40th), Rafa Cabrera-Bello (47th), Luke Donald (47th), Ian Poulter (47th), Lucas Glover (58th), Zach Johnson (77th) and Mike Weir (80th) all played the weekend. Byeong-Hun An, Aaron Baddeley, Joseph Bramlett, Brian Davis, Marc Leishman, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Andres Putnam, Rory Sabbatini, Adam Scott and Gary Woodland missed the cut.
Defending champion and 4-time Major Champion since June 2017 Brooks Koepka will undoubtedly be under the spotlight this week and there are lots of points to keep abreast of with him this week. Firstly we have to go back to Scotsman Willie Anderson in 1901 -1903 to find the last player to win 3 consecutive U.S. Open titles. Secondly, since 1960, players winning consecutive Major titles has occurred on only 12 occasions, namely: Arnold Palmer (1960), Lee Trevino (1971), Jack Nicklaus (1971/72 he won 3 consecutive Majors), Tom Watson (1982), Nick Price (1994), Tiger Woods (2000 he won 4 consecutive Majors), Tiger Woods (2002), Phil Mickelson (2005/06), Tiger Woods (2006), Padraig Harrington (2008), Rory McIlroy (2014) and Jordan Spieth (2015).
So this could be week to finally go against World Number 1 Brooks Koepka, who jointly stands at the head of affairs in betting with Rory McIroy and Dustin Johnson. Another huge trend going against Brooks this week is that only a single World Number 1 ranked player has won the title in the last 15 attempts. Yes of course it was Tiger Woods who’d won at Torrey Pines 6 times prior to his 2008 US Open victory there. He had previous it’s safe to say.
With Tiger Woods in mind, 5 players have done the Masters/US Open same season double since the 2nd World War. Ben Hogan in 1953 (they were his 7th and 8th Major wins); Arnold Palmer 1960 (2nd and 3rd Majors); Jack Nicklaus 1972 (10th and 11th Majors); Tiger Woods 2002 (7th and 8th Majors); Jordan Spieth 2015 (1st and 2nd Majors). Quite an illustrious club I think you’ll agree. Naturally with the U.S. Open now following on from the PGA Championship rather than The Masters, this double could potentially become more accessible.
A fascinating tournament awaits this week on the Carmel Bay coastline in California. Pebble Beach in U.S. Open condition is undoubtedly the kind of course where strategy and patience will be key. This seaside test isn’t links golf by any stretch, but it will be fascinating to see what the USGA’s new course set-up guru John Bodenhamer will order for the course. It’s worthy of note that the winning score at Pebble Beach in 6 Majors (5 U.S. Opens + 1 PGA Championship) has only been over par once. So if Bodenhamer is sensible, and he is already mentioning slower green speeds, this might not be quite as brutal as 2010 was.
For me, long and straight off the tee will be a great advantage this week. That may be stating the obvious as it tends to work every week, but I want players who are confident and aggressive with the driver arriving in California. Yes players will use driver far less often this week than on a standard PGA Tour event, but finding those who can get the extra yardage and still hit the short stuff regular will pay huge dividends this week.
In all likelihood, Pebble-positive players will be very much at the fore, with strong Total Driving and Greens in Regulation likely to be the key constituents. Naturally scrambling will also be at a premium with the course featuring tiny 3,500 average sq.ft. greens, so even the best ball-strikers will be missing 16 to 18 greens across the week.
As standard, the winner of this will need to be an all-round sort, so let’s keep it simple. I’ve gone with players who can play well on tough Poa Annua set-ups and those who tend to come alive on links-style tests. The fact that 9 of the last 13 winners of the US Open ranked in the top 13 for All-Round in their last appearance has also influenced my team to a certain degree.
Finally at a tournament where Pebble Beach knowledge is likely to be hugely significant I will point you in the direction of both our Pebble Beach Average Score research and our AT&T National Pro-AM form guide.