Tournament: U.S. Open, June 13-16, 2019
Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links, 7,075 yards, par 71.
Purse:$12,500,000. That is $500,000 more than the 2018 US Open. The winner’s share is slated to be 18% of the total, or $2,250,000. For perspective, the USGA (United States Golf Association which runs the US Open) also increased the US Women’s Open by an equal $500,000 this year, and it was the first time a woman’s tournament winner received $1,000,000 in prize money.
For additional perspective, Graeme McDowell won the US Open on this same course in 2010. His prize money at the time? $1,350,000. An increase of 67% in just 9 years. I presume all of us have experienced the same raise over this past decade.
Fun Fact: This is the 119th version of the US Open (the World Wars cancelled a few years), and the 100th year that Pebble Beach has... been a real golf course I guess. While it hosted some US Amateurs back in the day, the US Open first came to Monterrey in 1972, famously came back in 1982 (Tom Watson), in 1992 (Tom Kite - ugh), and in 2010 (Graeme McDowell). It also came to Pebble in 2000 - a year known for both being the last year Jack Nicklaus played the US Open, and for being arguable the most dominant major performance by a golfer... Tiger Woods 15 stroke victory.
Defending Champ: Brooks Koepka. The 2017 winner broke out of a 4-way time on Sunday with a hot start and clutch par saves (and “clutch bogeys” if that can be said) the rest of the round to hold off the only serious challenger (Mick Fleetwood who fired a 64 and jumped about 40 spots). Koepka would go on to win the PGA Championship that August, and has since come close in the Masters and just won the PGA Championship in May of this year. Yeah, Vegas is seeing some action on him this week.
‘Dawgs in the Field and Tee Times (all times Pacific):
Brendon Todd, 7:29 am, #10 tee, playing with Luke Donald and Mike Weir.
Bubba Watson, 7:40 am, #1 tee, playing with J.B. Holmes and Haotong Li.
Kevin Kisner, 8:02 am, #10 tee, playing with Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau
Keith Mitchell, 1:36 pm, #1 tee, playing with Shugo Imahira and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
TV Schedule: Thursday-Friday, 12:30-7:30 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1), 7:30-10:30 p.m. (FOX). Saturday, noon-10 p.m. (FOX). Sunday, 2-10 p.m. (FOX).
We’re at the year’s 3rd major, but the first time in a long time that the US Open is 3rd on the calendar. While the PGA Championship moved back to May, the US Open has nailed down the 3rd Sunday in June until the end of time. Also known as Father’s Day weekend. The perfect opportunity to get the target demographic to tune in - give the golfing public a brutal test in a major, and make sure they will be available to watch.
We’re also at Pebble Beach, one of the most desirable courses in the world (not to mention some of the most expensive real estate). Picturesque rolling hills meeting the ocean, the omnipresent Pacific ocean lining the majority of holes, the short but tricky par 3 7th, the long and difficult par 3 17th, and the majestic right-to-left par 5 finishing hole.
So we have a historical tournament held at a historical venue, and has been site of many historic golf shots. Nicklaus’ 1 iron into the wind on 17 back in ‘72; Watson’s famous chip in on the same hole in ‘82 to beat Nicklaus; tons of clutch shots in the AT&T pro-am held every February, and too many to count from Tiger in 2000.
There are story lines aplenty as usual. Brooks Koepka is going for the 3-peat in consecutive US Opens, a 2nd straight major, and 4 of the last 5 majors played. Dustin Johnson is looking to capture his 2nd major after having captured his 20th Tour victory earlier this year. Rory McIlroy hasn’t won a major in 5 years, already has 4, but won earlier this year and an incredible closing 61 this past Sunday to win the RBC Canadian Open by 7 shots. Jordan Spieth is hinting at returning to form. Justin Thomas returns from a wrist injury, having missed last month’s PGA Championship. Jason Day is also looking for a 2nd major, and has his 3rd caddie in 2 years - a guy by the name of Stevie Williams. If you didn’t know, Williams caddied for Greg Norman and then was on the bag for 13 more majors carrying for Tiger Woods.
So there’s the Tiger storylines. Returning to the course where he beat the field into submission in 2000, where he has 5 victories, looking for his 4th US Open and his 10th USGA title (3 US Opens, 3 US Amateurs, 3 US Junior Amateurs). And he loves these poa annua greens.
Then there’s Phil. Mickelson has won 5 times at Pebble Beach, and has 6 runner-up finishes in the US Open, but famously no victories (looking at you Winged Foot). He also turns 49 years old Sunday, and this will likely be his last best shot to capture the elusive national championship. Not to mention that would complete the career grand slam for Phil (already having won the Masters, the British, and the PGA Championship).
As for former Bulldogs, I’ll have to go with Mitchell. Todd is playing thanks to winning a qualifying tournament but his game isn’t quite at this level. I don’t think Bubba will have the flat stick to compete for the win, even with his new more consistent stroke. And Kisner already admitted earlier this year that this course doesn’t suit him, though the lack of length is a little more to his liking. Keith has plenty of power, can play short irons into the greens even from the rough, and if he can putt just above average, then he should have a chance.
We’ll be back with more updates and tee times as the ‘Dawgs get into contention. Feel free to comment or ask questions below. And as always...