U.S. Open 2019: 5 storylines to follow at Pebble Beach

first_imgIt’s more than just the unpredictable weather and wind that play factors. There’s small, very small, greens, exceptionally narrow fairways and tough rough.Patrick Cantlay showed just that a week before the start of the tournament. He was standing on the ninth green, which is in the middle a difficult stretch of holes, when he threw a couple balls into the rough. They quickly got lost and Cantlay demonstrated how hard it was to simply chop the ball on to the green. Is Jordan Spieth back on track? How will Pebble Beach play after nearly a decade away from golf’s major circuit?There’s a lot on the horizon leading up to 2019’s third Grand Slam tournament. Related News U.S. Open 2019 betting odds: Brooks Koepka opens as 5-1; Tiger Woods (12-1) third There will be plenty of stories to follow at the 2019 U.S. Open this week and they involve some the usual names, including the surging Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson — who is still searching for his career Grand Slam 27 years into his career — and 15-time major champion Tiger Woods.But now there are a few other things to keep an eye on. Five storylines to follow at the 2019 U.S. Open:1. Can Brooks Koepka three-peat?Koepka has stolen the show at recent major championships. The 29-year-old has won the past two U.S. Opens (2017, 2018) and the last two PGA Championships (2018, 2019). He’s been calm, cool and collected as he breaks away from the field in an effort to etch his name in golf history.He won both U.S. Open titles by a combined five strokes. Last year, he was able to take the trophy despite carding two rounds over par and bounced back with a final round of 68 at Shinnecock Hills. Koepka became the first player to win the USGA’s marquee championship in consecutive years since Curtis Strange (1988-89) — and the seventh overall.Four majors in 23 months. Can last month’s #PGAChamp winner Brooks Koepka achieve a three-peat at the #USOpen?All next week, stay tuned-in to @GolfCentral Live From the U.S. Open for news and analysis from Pebble Beach. pic.twitter.com/XN2eJ3Z6gL— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) June 10, 2019If he can pull out another win at Pebble, Koepka will join one other of golfer to win three straight U.S. Opens, and that rare accomplishment is almost as old as the tournament itself.From 1903-05, Scotsman Willie Anderson claimed back-to-back-to-back titles. The impressive, and thus far impossible to replicate, streak started just eight years after the first U.S. Open.2. Can Phil Mickelson get his career Grand Slam?There’s something about this major that has bullied Mickelson for the better part of his career. The five-time major champion has won each of the three other top events. He’s certainly come close a handful of times in the U.S. Open, finishing solo second or tying as the runner-up in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2013.Recently, Mickelson has been far from contention. In 2018, he finished tied for 48th; the previous year he withdrew the morning of the first round to attend the high school graduation of his daughter Amanda; and in 2016, he missed the cut.To make matters worse, or better if he were to finally complete the career Grand Slam, the U.S. Open always ends on Father’s Day — and this year that’s June 16, Mickelson’s 49th birthday.”The difficulty is not the age. The difficulty is that when you’re in your 20s you feel like you have multiple chances,” Mickelson said at the Memorial Tournament in May. “And when you’re turning 49, you’re like I’ve got two more chances, this year, and maybe Winged Foot and that’s about it. With that being the only one in the four that I haven’t won, and what it would offer me and how I look at my career, I put more pressure on it. That’s the difficult thing.”Mickelson’s collapse at Winged Foot in 2006 is perhaps the most memorable U.S. Open moment of his career. He reached the final hole, a 450-yard par-4, with a one-shot lead and just needed to par. Instead, he carded a double bogey. If Mickelson can win at Pebble Beach, a feat he completed at the 2019 AT&T Pro-Am in February, Winged Foot in 2020 will be all but forgotten.3. Will Tiger Woods bounce back to major glory?Woods put a cherry on top of his comeback by winning the 2019 Masters. The fan favorite when he takes the course broke an 11-year major championship drought with his most recent win. “It validated that I can still do it at the highest level,” Woods said at The Memorial, where he finished tied for ninth.Now, Woods is hoping to prove it at Pebble.He’s had success at this majestic course before, quite a bit actually. Woods set a major record when he claimed his first of three U.S. Opens at Pebble when he won by 15 strokes in 2000. It was not only the biggest win of any golfer at the U.S. Open but also any major … ever.Woods took an extended break between his Masters win and the PGA Championship. It was the first time he did not have starts sandwiched between majors since 2013 — that year he sat out the U.S. Open and The Open Championship.Woods was happy with his performance at The Memorial, his driver in particular, and it could be just what the Big Cat needed to inch close to Jack Nicklaus’ major record (18).4. Will Jordan Spieth continue his upswing?Spieth is no stranger to major glory. It was only four years after turning professional when the now-25-year-old won two consecutive major championships: the 2015 Masters and U.S. Open.He went on to win the British Open in 2017, but for the once-unstoppable golfer, he has not won since.Spieth entered the PGA Championship in a rut and had not placed within the top 20 before this particular major. He was able to climb into a tie for third place by the end of the week and since then he has finished tied for eighth (Charles Schwab Challenge) and tied for seventh (Memorial).”I’m kind of on the rise from kind of a trough, and it feels good to be on the rise,” Spieth said at The Memorial, the last tournament he competed in before the U.S. Open. “It feels good to have some momentum.”Others are liking that momentum as well. Spieth is a favorite, among Koepka, Woods and Dustin Johnson, to win this weekend.5. How will Pebble Beach play?Pebble has some of the most beautiful views in golf — and some of the toughest shots. It’s nestled against the coastline and has open views of the bay.center_img Pebble beach going to show its teeth next week💨A post shared by Patrick Cantlay (@patrickcantlay) on Jun 6, 2019 at 9:06am PDTGolfers will be tested along the coastline, and as they weave their way through the course. It will be impressive if a player can go low, a 63 has been shot in each of the last two U.S. Opens, but it will be even more impressive if one can dodge the difficult course the USGA is sure to serve up. U.S. Open 2019: Notable Thursday-Friday groups, tee times at Pebble Beach View this post on Instagramlast_img read more