PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Open returns to one of the most scenic courses in the world: Pebble Beach. Looming cliffs, raging tides, microscopic greens — Pebble Beach is going to throw it all at 156 of the best players in the world this week. It’s going to be glorious.
Is Brooks Koepka gonna win this one, too?
Possibly! Koepka, who looms over the world of golf like Godzilla surveying a defenseless city, arrives at Pebble as the two-time defending U.S. Open champion and the two-time defending PGA Championship victor. That’s a hell of a resume, and Koepka knows it, even if he gets a little testy when others don’t give him enough love. Koepka’s one of the best bets for this weekend, even if he won’t be able to pummel this course into submission the way he has others.
How will Pebble Beach play?
The USGA has taken plenty of grief in recent years for the way it’s set up various U.S. Open venues to frustrating and borderline unfair degrees ... at least according to the players, and you can decide how much weight you want to give their gripes. Pebble Beach has tiny greens and swirling winds that come whipping off the water; adding trickeration to that classic setup would be like adding neon accents to the Mona Lisa. The weather’s expected to be cool and breezy, without a whole lot of wind, which could leave the greens dry and slick. The USGA’s run out of second chances with some players — Koepka is a notable exception — which is why you ought to root for chaos.
Tiger Woods. What’ll he do?
He might win! Seriously! Woods has what he needs in his bag to stay in contention: precise iron play. That’s what kept him in the Masters until everyone else fell apart, and it ought to keep him on track at Pebble through Sunday. He’ll need to putt well, and he can’t get wayward off the tee or he’s screwed. But it’s not asking too much to expect him to be in the mix right on until late Sunday.
Who else has a good shot?
Pebble Beach is a short track relative to the runways of recent U.S. Opens, which brings quite a few shorter hitters into the hunt. You don’t have to hit the ball halfway to Oregon to stay in contention; all you have to do is keep it out of the swallowing rough and avoid flying off the back ends of tiny greens. That could bring everyone from Rory McIlroy, coming off a big win at the RBC-Canadian Open last week, to Dustin Johnson, still with only one major, to Justin Thomas, who missed the PGA with an injury, back to the top of the leaderboard. If Koepka’s going to win this one, he’s going to have to earn it.
Where can we watch?
Everywhere! The Pacific coast locale means that this year’s U.S. Open will be in East Coast prime time, which is always just the best. The tournament will stream live on usopen.com and the U.S. Open app, and will be all over Fox Sports’ networks with the following schedule (all times Eastern):
Thursday/Friday: 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. FS1, 4:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Fox
Saturday: Noon-10 p.m. Fox
Sunday: 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Fox
Tee times: Right here
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