PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — A U.S. Open at Pebble Seaside feels completely different.
“The historical past behind it,” Brooks Koepka stated. “You take a look at the blokes which have gained right here at Pebble, all Corridor of Famers, a number of the biggest gamers which have ever performed the sport. How are you going to not just like the views? It is a cool place simply to play golf and simply to be right here. It truly is particular.”
Koepka shall be after one thing extraordinarily particular this week. If he wins, he can be the primary participant in additional than a century to win three consecutive U.S. Open titles. However he isn’t the one large title coming into with large questions: Can Tiger Woods win his second main of the yr and inch nearer to Jack Nicklaus’ profession complete of 18? Will Phil Mickelson lastly full the profession grand slam with that elusive U.S. Open win?
We undergo all the foremost questions.
1. Which Tiger reveals up: Masters Tiger or PGA Championship Tiger?
Bob Harig: Masters Tiger. That isn’t to say he’ll win, however Tiger involves Pebble Seaside much better ready than he was on the PGA. It is solely six rounds of aggressive golf because the Masters, however that has given him loads of suggestions for what to work on main as much as the U.S. Open. Getting right here early and enjoying the course on Sunday was a good suggestion, too.
Michael Collins: A more in-depth model of Masters Tiger. This course has a lot completely different calls for than Augusta Nationwide has. In order that Tiger should not present up right here. If the Tiger Woods from the primary 12 holes Sunday at The Memorial reveals up (as Samuel L. Jackson stated in “Jurassic Park”), then “maintain on to your butts.” That man may win right here … by a landslide!
Ian O’Connor: Neither. I believe 2010 Pebble Seaside U.S. Open Tiger reveals up. He completed T-Four right here 10 years after successful by 15, and that sounds about proper this time round. Tiger could have his moments, and he’ll get up Sunday morning with a shot. However I believe Koepka and DJ are higher bets.
Mark Schlabach: I believe Tiger will play higher than he did at Bethpage Black, however I do not assume he will be a official contender to win at Pebble Seaside this week. Certain, he gained a U.S. Open right here by a staggering 15 strokes, however that was 19 years in the past. He has by no means been an enormous fan of poa annua greens, so placing on the bumpy surfaces is perhaps a trigger for concern this week.
Nick Pietruszkiewicz: Undoubtedly Masters Tiger. I truly assume he wins this week. Bethpage Black is not his sort in fact anymore. The timing was unhealthy, too, with him not enjoying in any respect after ending his main drought in April. Locations like Augusta Nationwide and Pebble Seaside are higher matches as he ages. He is aware of this place. He is aware of easy methods to win right here. He is aware of easy methods to win on the U.S. Open. Bethpage was a blip.
Brooks Koepka talks with Tom Rinaldi about being the underdog and the way he’ll all the time have that chip on his shoulder.
2. Brooks Koepka is after a 3rd straight U.S. Open. Does he get it? If not, what stops him?
Harig: No, and it is actually not meant as a slight. It’s merely the legislation of averages. It’s laborious to win tournaments, particularly majors. To win 4 over the previous two years is a tremendous achievement. No person can be shocked if he captured the U.S. Open to change into the primary participant in additional than a century to win three straight. However truly doing it? Not this week.
Collins: He will get it. Koepka already performs main championships at a distinct degree, however this one he performs with an even bigger chip on his shoulder than others due to his perceived slights on his wins. Brooks is aware of what it might imply traditionally to win three in a row, however he’s one of the best at compartmentalizing that type of stuff since Tiger Woods.
O’Connor: Sure, he’ll be a part of Willie Anderson — the late, nice Scot, not the previous San Antonio Spur, Toronto Raptor, New York Knick and Miami Warmth — as the one three-peater in U.S. Open historical past. Koepka has gained 50% of his majors over the previous two years. It simply is sensible to choose him till he provides me a motive to not.
Schlabach: I believe Koepka is the man to beat, and extra importantly he is aware of he is the man to beat. I am sure he’ll be additional motivated as a result of all people appears to be speaking about Tiger, Phil, Rory McIlroy and his buddy Dustin Johnson because the favorites as soon as once more. At Erin Hills in 2017 and Shinnecock Hills final yr, Koepka gained along with his energy and distance off the tee. The setup at Pebble Seaside, with tighter fairways and thicker tough, would require him to be extra correct off the tee and on second photographs. Till any individual knocks him off, I am using with Koepka.
Pietruszkiewicz: He can win anyplace. He can win right here. He can win this week. What is going to cease him will not be him. What is going to cease him shall be any individual else. In my thoughts, this week, it is Tiger. However to assume he cannot win on a finesse course or that weight of chasing a 3rd straight U.S. Open title … none of that stuff others him. So it will not be any of that stuff that forces him to present again that trophy for the primary time in three years.
three. After bother (once more) at Shinnecock Hills a yr in the past and early complaints from gamers about Pebble Seaside, will the USGA get this one proper?
Harig: It should. An excessive amount of of the previous 5 years has been crammed with complaining or guidelines officers, justified or not. The underside line is there was a problem at every of the previous 4 U.S Opens — final yr’s Saturday fiasco a first-rate instance of participant angst. Search for the USGA to be extraordinarily cautious, and if something, go too tender.
Collins: Nope. Take into consideration this: You are the “new man” taking on setup duties from Mike Davis, which is occurring with John Bodenhamer now in cost. Are you going to have your first U.S. Open be gained with a rating of eight underneath and with 15 guys underneath par? You assume the “previous boys” community goes to place somebody in place who will not do what they need and keep on the “par is a good rating” edict? I will be extra shocked after they let one of the best golfers exhibit their skills, as an alternative of constructing it about ensuring a sure rating wins.
O’Connor: I might by no means been to Pebble earlier than Tuesday morning, and it took me 15 minutes on the grounds to appreciate it might be awfully troublesome to screw up this place. The USGA has been so traumatized by participant gripes and media rip jobs lately that I might wager on one thing of an overcorrection the opposite means. For a change, this championship shall be concerning the golf, and never concerning the individuals who govern it.
Schlabach: I believe USGA officers have heard the complaints from gamers loud and clear. The tough at Pebble Seaside is thick, nevertheless it may have been even thicker. The greens are considerably tender, though they’re anticipated to dry out because the week goes alongside. Gamers are praying for rain, however there’s no within the climate forecast. With partly cloudy skies, temperatures within the high-50s and low-60s, and winds from 9 to 11 mph anticipated for every of the 4 rounds, it may be laborious for the USGA to get this one fallacious.
Pietruszkiewicz: Please, please, please let the reply to this be sure. The USGA cannot afford one other debacle. Let the gamers resolve who wins, not luck (or unhealthy luck) introduced on by the USGA pushing Pebble Seaside to the brink merely to ensure the winner is round even par. Getting the course agency is ok. Making it unattainable for one of the best gamers on this planet to maintain a ball on inexperienced will not be nice.
Andrew Redington/Getty Pictures
Four. Largest title you are frightened about to overlook the minimize?
Harig: Bryson DeChambeau. His type has not been the best because the Masters, with a stretch of three missed cuts earlier than he tied for 22nd on the Memorial. Maybe that was an indication he is popping out of his funk, however the large entourage at Pebble Seaside understanding all of the science is perhaps an excessive amount of.
Collins: Phil Mickelson. I really feel unhealthy for Phil as a result of he gained right here earlier this yr. So there’s additional strain on him, on prime of making an attempt to finish the profession grand slam. It is an excessive amount of. Placing two drivers within the bag is overthinking it — once more. However that is the trace into when guys say, “I simply must get out of my very own means.” I simply want Phil may do it on the U.S. Open. This week would be the hardest one for him to make the weekend.
O’Connor: DeChambeau. His newfangled math is not including up recently, and it is a course constructed for artists, not scientists. Now watch him win the rattling factor.
Schlabach: Spain’s Jon Rahm completed tied for ninth on the Masters and gained the Zurich Basic with teammate Ryan Palmer. However then Rahm missed the minimize on the PGA Championship and the Charles Schwab Problem at Colonial, his most up-to-date occasion. He would not come into the U.S. Open with plenty of confidence and momentum. Rahm has been nice off the tee and his iron play is pretty much as good as anybody, however he ranks 72nd in photographs gained: method to the inexperienced, and 110th in photographs gained: across the inexperienced. Is his quick recreation adequate to carry up at Pebble Seaside?
Pietruszkiewicz: I am with Bob and Ian on this. After watching DeChambeau with all these individuals round him, and two completely different swing gadgets subsequent to him for each shot throughout an early week apply spherical, makes it laborious to think about he will not get into his head at an occasion designed to get into your head. One unhealthy gap may ship the thoughts right into a tailspin. And at a U.S. Open, it is laborious to not have not less than one unhealthy gap.
5. OK, does Phil have an opportunity?
Harig: Certain, however he must get the ball within the fairway. Phil can discuss all he needs about hitting bombs, however that’s not the technique this week, and he is aware of it. Pebble is a distinct place from when he gained in February and will hit driver and assault pins on a tender course. Much more technique is concerned, however Phil is actually able to getting it going.
Collins: No. For all the explanations I acknowledged within the earlier query. Some baggage will be useful. Different baggage will be like sporting a cement backpack to go swimming. If the U.S. Open have been the Italian mafia, Phil is the one who’ll by no means be a “made” man.
O’Connor: After all he does. Phil is likely one of the biggest gamers of all time, he has gained 5 instances right here, and it might be completely Mickelsonian for Lefty to lastly full the profession Grand Slam and win the U.S. Open one yr after he clowned himself and the USGA at Shinnecock.
Schlabach: If Phil retains his large driver within the bag and stays affected person, he’ll have an opportunity to win the U.S. Open and full the profession grand slam. He admits there’s plenty of strain on him, each internally and externally, to lastly win the U.S. Open. He is aware of the window is closing quick as he approaches his 49th birthday on Sunday. If he would not win at Pebble Seaside this week or Winged Foot subsequent season, it is not going to occur.
Pietruszkiewicz: Properly, would not that be enjoyable. Think about if two of the names excessive on the leaderboard come Sunday evening are Mickelson and Woods. Sure, he has an opportunity. I say he finishes someplace between 15-25. He is within the combine, within the dialog, however not the winner.