The Majors have come thick and fast in 2019 and the US Open is the third of them, played on an iconic golf course, writes GARY LEMKE.
Tiger Woods is aiming to create even more history when he tees up at the 119th US Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links in June. He is already part of a select group of six to have won The Masters and the US Open in the same year – the others being Craig Wood (1941), Ben Hogan (1953), Arnold Palmer (1960), Jack Nicklaus (1972) and Jordan Spieth (2015). In 2002 Woods did the double, and after securing an emotional fifth Green Jacket at Augusta in 2019, he is attempting to become the first player to do the ‘double double’.
This year’s event, the sixth time it will be held at Pebble Beach, is also likely to produce plenty of pre-tournament emotion when two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen, now 50, will be formally inducted into Golf’s Hall of Fame.
The course is famed worldwide and no less an authority than Gary Player says it comfortably slots into his 10 best courses to be found anywhere on the planet.
When Pebble Beach was originally designed in 1919, the goal of architects Jack Neville and Douglas Grant was to place as many holes as possible along Carmel Bay. The course, which features dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean, runs 7 040 yards (6 437m). While the fairways are made from winter ryegrass, the greens use poa annua grass. The course has undergone only a handful of renovations, but its most recent redesign came before the 2010 US Open. Led by Palmer, four greens and 16 bunkers were rebuilt, altered or installed, 11 tees were enhanced, trees were added or adjusted on six greens, and the distance was lengthened.
The longest hole is the par-five 14th that runs 572 yards from the furthest tee and plays as the stroke one. The shortest and possibly most iconic is the par-three 7th hole, which is 106 yards from the furthest tee, and is in fact the shortest hole on the PGA Tour. It’s the stroke 18 for amateurs. Situated on Arrowhead Point, the wind can get crazy, and as a result, club selection is dependent on how strong the wind is. Sam Snead once opted to putt off the tee and down a dirt cart path instead of sending a shot into the wind.
However, all eyes will be on Woods to see whether he can not only continue the greatest sporting comeback of all time, but also whether he can further close in on Nicklaus’ record 18 Majors, and in the process become the first golfer to twice win The Masters and the US Open in the same year.
– This article first appeared in the June issue of Compleat Golfer, now on sale