The US Open is the third Grand Slam of the golfing season and this year is being played on the famed Pebble Beach Links in California.
The tournament also offers defending champion Brooks Koepka the chance to stake yet more golfing history as he looks to win for a third time in succession – a three-peat as the locals of called it, and that is a feat not seen in the US Open since 1905 when Scotsman Willie Anderson won three-in-a-row.
Winning a major three times is very rare, and aside from Anderson it was only ever done by one other player – Walter Hagon, when he claimed the US PGA title – then a matchplay event – four years in succession back in the 1920s.
Now Koepka could become the first golfer in 92 years to do it, and the world number one does love the majors – having won four of the last eight, including the US PGA last month.
But Koepka insists it is because he treats Majors like normal events, it is easier to win the,
“To me, majors are just other golf events – you can’t put some outside pressure on them,” Koepka said.
Asked about the three-peat he added: “I know what I’m chasing and trying to accomplish. But I won’t be changing anything in my game at all. It’s just that my focus will go up tenfold because it’s a major and I zone in. I feel very confident, comfortable and I’m not messing around with anything.”
Welcome to Pebble Beach.
It’s U.S. Open week. ⛳️ 🌊 pic.twitter.com/JfZc7wb0YP
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 10, 2019
Despite Koepka’s amazing record, many feel that Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is in great shape to win his first major in five years, and he comes in as favourite off the back of sealing the Canadian Open last week.
“I always say I never try to get too carried away when I’m playing good, and I never get too carried away when I’m playing badly,” said McIlroy.
“I feel like I play my best when I play in stretches of golf. I really want to play stretches of golf around the Majors.”
And Pebble Beach is kind to the Northern Irish – with the last man to claim a major victory on its shores was Graeme McDowell – who is also starting to recapture some much needed form.
“I have a vision of getting back to the top of the game one more time and how cool would it be if Pebble Beach is once again the launching pad?” McDowell said.
“It’s a course that suits me because it’s not a bombers’ course. It gives us shorter hitters a chance as it’s around 7,000 yards and I’m hoping it’s going to be firm and fast, make the greens play really, really small.
“Super-disciplined iron play is required, it’s really penal if you miss the greens.
“Similar to 2010 really. Firmness really is the protector at Pebble, and then obviously wind and a bit of weather. Going into that US Open at Pebble I was beginning to feel ready.”
And we must also not forget Phil Mickelson – he has the chance to do what McIlroy and Jordan Spieth have failed to do so far in 2019, and that is complete the career Grand Slam.
Mickelson only needs the US Open to complete his quartet, and he is now looking for the win at his 27th attempt.
“There’s not much I could do right now that would do anything to redefine my career, but there’s one thing I could do, and that would be to win a U.S. Open,” Mickelson said, admitting that winning the Grand Slam would take him to another level.
“So if I were to do that, it would change the way I view my career because there are only, what, five guys that have ever won all the majors. And you have to look at those guys differently.”
- Pebbe Beach Links, California
- First staged in 1895
- Current champion is Brooks Koepka
OVERVIEW: The US Open is one of the oldest and most prestigious tournaments in the world, and the third Major of the season does have a field representative of its calibre.
TOP TEN BETTING:
The Bookies point of view…
32Red’s Sponsorship manager Jack Milner delivers a weekly verdict on each tournament.
The US Open heads to Pebble Beach and golf’s who’s who all poised to create history on the west coast this week, world number one and defending champion Brooks Koepka has been usurped at the head of the betting by Rory McIlroy, after the Northern Irishman’s bludgeoning victory last week in Canada. That shows he is back to the sort of form that saw him bag The Player’s Championship at Sawgrass, and he warrants maximum respect if replicating the form he showed off the tee in Hamilton.
Koepka meanwhile, successfully defended the PGA Championship at Bethpage and is bidding for a third consecutive US Open success. He sauntered to victory last month when only really tested in the final round by close friend Dustin Johnson, himself a former winner and primed to record a second major success.
The man they arguably all have to beat is Tiger Woods, who won a 14th major with his Masters win at Augusta in April and boasts a terrific record around Pebble Beach. He famously won this tournament by 15 shots when the US Open was hosted at the course in 2002 and should be suited by the lesser demands of the course against the aforementioned big hitters.
Tiger would be my most likely winner but he is plain too short at 11/1 with 32Red, and I’d much prefer to take a chance on golf’s next two superstars in Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schaufele at bigger prices. The pair are undoubtedly going to be a staple in USA’s next dozen or so Ryder Cup sides and it is only a matter of time before either break through to the next level.
Tremendous tee-to-green, Cantlay showed tremendous grit to win for the first time this season with a last round 63 getting the job done at The Memorial, whilst Schaufele has hit the crossbar in several including Tiger’s infamous green jacket success in the spring.
They should relish the forecast tricky conditions, and look too big at their current prices, and the same applies to Francesco Molinari. The Champion Golfer arguably should have won a second major at Augusta, and probably would have done bar his mishap at the 12th in the final round and is huge at 35/1. For one of the straightest hitters on tour, the price is an insult.
Of the rest, Webb Simpson has been popular, 28/1 from 40s with 32Red and probably the right price, should go well and money for others that similarly played well in Canada Shane Lowry and Henrik Stenson, both now 50s, probably has them at around the right price.
The pro’s point of view…
Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.
Am really pleased the US Open is on a Links, for me the best and true test of golf – although it will be interesting to see how things have been set up at Pebble Beach.
We know Tiger Woods has mauled this course in he past, whilst Graeme McDowell was the last winner here when a Major pleased – but I do find it hard to disagree with the Bookmakers with Rory McIlroy.
Indeed for me I would follow the Irish this week in McIlroy, McDowell and Lowry – I think those three would put you in with a great shout.
And obviously, nothing would please me more than to see the great ‘Lefty’ Phil Mickelson complete the Grand Slam – who would not want that!