Category Archives: Pebble Beach

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2019 U.S. Open Final Round Highlights

The 119th playing of the U.S. Open is officially in the books following four days of grueling competition. The host site, Pebble Beach, didn’t quite fight back as many expected but it yielded plenty of exciting opportunities and tension down the closing stretch. After winning back to back in 2017 and 2018, defending champion Brooks Koepka nearly made it a three-peat but inevitably came up three shots short.

Keeping calm, cool, and collected Sunday, much like he did all week, gave Gary Woodland the poise to pull off his first Major victory. Since the close of Friday’s second round, the 35-year old four-time PGA Tour winner stayed at the top and refused to let go of his chance at history. With a final round of 69 Woodland finished the tournament 13-under par and three clear of the competition.

Between Woodland, Koepka, and Justin Rose battling at the top, the leaders turned in plenty of top shots Sunday. But the field below them jockeying for position also provided their fair share of highlight reel moments. Last Word on Golf has compiled the top highlights from Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open.
Woodland wins at Pebble Beach
With Koepka and Rose already making moves to threaten the lead, Woodland answered right back with a birdie at the second hole to improve to 12-under.

With what can only be described as ice running through his veins, Woodland matched the roars from Koepka’s early charge with another confident birdie of his own to extend his lead back to two.

As Koepka began breathing straight down his neck, Woodland stepped up once again and delivered a clutch birdie to increase his lead to two shots once again.

Woodland proved human after barely missing a 21-footer for birdie that would’ve moved him to a three-shot lead.

Another narrowly missed birdie putt helped to highlight how Woodland’s lead so much of the U.S. Open this week, by minimizing the big numbers and keeping his scores consistent.

On the green in three at the par-5 18th, and already a two-stroke lead, Woodland refused to play it safe by turning in a crowd erupting 30-foot birdie to solidify his first ever major championship at the 2019 U.S. Open.


Rose and Koepka contend
Starting the day four off the lead, reigning back to back U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka turned the heat up quickly with a birdie on his first hole of the day.

With a birdie to close his round Saturday, Justin Rose kept the momentum train rolling with another birdie on his first hole of the day to get into an early tie of the lead.

From a seemingly impossible lie in the thick rough and an awkward angle, Koepka turned around what could have easily been a bogey or worse with an incredible approach that would lead to a par save.

From the fairway on the par-4 3rd, Koepka reeled in his approach to set up an easy birdie to get to 9-under.

With three birdies in his first four holes, Koepka jumped into a tie for second and began the rumblings of a comeback back to back to back U.S. Open championship bid.

With almost 22-feet to the hole, Koepka continued his birdie run at the par-3 5th.

After a few routine pars Koepka went back to the birdies at the par-4 11th to move to just one shot off the lead.

With so much going on around him Rose stayed laser-focused over his par-saving putt at 11.

Still two shots off the lead, Koepka had a chance to put the pressure on and move the lead to just one with one to play. Unfortunately for Koepka it wasn’t meant to be as his birdie putt on 18 just barely missed the right edge.


The Best of the Rest
Just a few more inches and Rory McIlroy would’ve had one of the shots of the entire tournament as he missed an ace at the iconic par-3 7th hole be just a few rotations of the golf ball.

After 59-years of Jack Nicklaus’ 72-hole U.S. Open amateur record standing strong, at his last tournament as an amateur, Viktor Hovland broke that record Sunday by two strokes.

He may not have had much to talk about for much of the tournament but Bryson DeChambeau turned in some early noise from the gallery with an eagle at the par-5 6th to get back to even par.

2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson made his move up the leaderboard with an eagle at the 6th and a follow-up birdie at the 7th to also battle back to even par.

Falling off the gird after a sensational opening round, Rockie Fowler proved he still has plenty to prove at Pebble Beach following a birdie putt from off the green at the par-4 4th.

Aaron Wise used every inch of spin he could muster at the par-5 14th for a remarkable 79-yard birdie hole out.

Scott Piercy started his round in one of the best ways possible with a birdie hole out at the very first hole of the day.

Despite finishing the tournament at 4-over par, the newly turned 49-year old Phil Mickelson finished his 28th U.S. Open appearance with a birdie at 18.

If you come to play Pebble Beach you better know how to play out of the sand. 2018 Open Champion, Francesco Molinari proved he knows his way out of a bunker with a birdie hole out at the 8th.

No matter where he is on the leaderboard all eyes are on Tiger Woods. And Woods knows how to deliver late in on a Sunday including this lengthy birdie at the par-4 13th.

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2019 U.S. Open Second Round Highlights

Pebble Beach tried to battle back Friday but there were still plenty of low numbers to be had throughout the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open. Deep rough and ever-changing winds tried to unnerve some of the top names in the world of golf. Despite the conditions, one player emerged from the pack as the outright leader heading into the weekend.

Coming off two top-10 performances in his last three Major appearances, Gary Woodland shot a 6-under second round of 65 to take a two-stroke lead over the field. Since early in his opening round, Woodland now finds himself bogey-free over his last 27 holes. The 12-year pro may be in uncharted territory but if his play stays as steady as it did today he seems more than up to the task.

While the top of the leaderboard flourished, the rest of the field struggled to stay inside the dreaded cutline. The pressure of leaving Pebble Beach early mixed with the importance of a major championship provided plenty of top highlights during the U.S. Open’s second round.
Woodland goes low
Beginning his day 2-under par through his first nine holes, starting on 10, Gary Woodland began his battle to the top of the leaderboard with an emphatic birdie at the par-4 1st to move within one of the lead.

After putting himself in prime position, Woodland took his shot at the leaderboard with back to back birdies beginning with a quick, breaking two to tie for the lead at the par-3 5th.

A sensational approach at the 529-yard par-5 6th gave Woodland a look at eagle but he’d ultimately settle for a birdie to claim the outright lead at 8-under.

With his lead in jeopardy late in the round, Woodland stayed calm before pouring in a difficult 15-foot putt to save par.

After it seemed like Woodland pulled out every surprise he had in his bag of trick Friday he saved possibly the best for last with an improbable 49 and a half foot birdie putt to end his round with the tournament leading 9-under par.


Top contenders chase down the lead
The defending back to back U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka continued to battle through his second round just to stay in striking range of the lead. Back to back birdies at six and seven helped keep Koepka on track heading to the weekend.

One of the most consistent players in the game, Justin Rose seemed to have the 36-hole lead nearly untouchable early in his round Friday. Even following his missed hits, the Englishman found a way to birdie including battling out of the bunker at the difficult par-5 18th.

The 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari proved he doesn’t need a putter to move into contention following a chip-in for birdie at the par-3 7th.

A roller coaster ride featuring seven birdies and five bogeys brought down what began as a solid start for Jordan Spieth. The 2015 U.S. Open champion started his second round with three birdies over his first four holes.

Before Woodland made his charge, it was the South African Louis Oosthuizen who was threatening the lead thanks to his accuracy of the tee and touch around the green.

Despite a back and forth round both Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy proved why they are two of top players on the PGA Tour and around the world with bounce back play at the 14th and 16th respectively.

With back to back rounds of 69, the man known as Kuch ignited the crowd on his final hole of the day with a chip in for eagle at the par-5 18th to place Matt Kuchar at 4-under and five shots off the lead.

The last man to win a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell, made a run of his own Friday featuring a stretch of four straight birdies starting at the par-4 4th.

A leader late Thursday before being passed by Justin Rose, Scott Piercy continued to claw back toward the lead with a long birdie putt Friday at the par-4 13th.


The battle against the cut heats up
Finishing 1-over par for his round, Tiger Woods skated inside the cutline by just two strokes thanks to clutch short game and putting including a birdie at the par-4 11th.

Only his second week back from injury and Justin Thomas flirted with the cutline throughout his second round. At the par-4 9th, JT’s game looked to have a glimmer of hope with a hole-out from the greenside rough. Unfortunately, the 2017 FedEx Cup champion failed to make the cut by two strokes.

Despite missing the cut, Ian Poulter finished his 2019 U.S. Open in memorable fashion after draining his third shot from 71-yards out for birdie.

 

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Last Word on Golf 2019 U.S. Open Predictions

This week some of the Last Word on Golf’s writing team tackle our 2019 U.S. Open predictions. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf panel make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your U.S. Open picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Graeme McDowell (80 to 1)

The biggest underdog I’ve picked this season comes back to a familiar locale this week at the 2019 U.S. Open. Northern Ireland’s own Graeme Macdowell was the last man to win a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach back in 2010. Earlier this season the 39-year old found himself back in the winner’s circle at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.

McDowell’s recent form has been on the upward trajectory as he finished tied for 29th at the PGA Championship and currently sits 5th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting (an essential stat with this week’s tricky poa annua greens). This past week at the RBC Canadian Open McDowell gained a momentous boost of confidence after sinking a clutch putt on the final hole to punch his ticket back home to Royal Portrush and The Open Championship just over a month away.

Josh Mullenix (@TheJMULL_)- Matt Kuchar (50 to 1)

Not entirely sure you can consider Kuch an underdog, but he certainly isn’t a favorite. Pebble Beach isn’t that long of a golf course. What comes at a premium is hitting fairways and accurate approach shots to these small, undulated greens. Kuchar does both of these things beautifully and his lack of power won’t hurt him on a golf course that is only going to play 7,075 yards.

He ranks inside the top-10 on the PGA Tour in both driving accuracy and strokes gained: approach the green. Apart from a missed cut at the Memorial, Kuchar hasn’t finished outside the top-12 since the Players in mid-March.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Jon Rahm

Entering the U.S. Open, Spain’s Jon Rahm sits at a 28-to-1 favorite and in many cases is a top-10 consensus to perform. However, the often emotional (and sometimes volatile) Rahm is coming off two straight missed cuts, including at the PGA Championship.

Going up against a tricky USGA layout at Pebble Beach may prove too much to handle for the immensely talented 24-year old rising star. Thus far this season Rahm sits 110th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, 72nd in Strokes Gained: Approach and 71st in Scrambling.

The narrowed fairways and troublesome misses could play equalizer to the accuracy and length off the tee. While he is more than capable of making the proper adjustments, Pebble Beach has a way of humbling even the game’s greatest competitors which could mean an early return home for Rahm from one of the most iconic courses in all of golf.

Mullenix- Phil Mickelson

I really want Phil to win this week and complete the grand slam, but I just don’t see it happening. Since Mickelson won the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach earlier this year, his best finish is a tie for 18th at Augusta, he’s missed four cuts in nine events, and only has two rounds in the 60s since the beginning of the Masters.

He is 208th on tour in driving accuracy and is 102nd in greens in regulation percentage. Those stats don’t add up to a player that is going to make the cut at the toughest test in golf. Mickelson has been far too inconsistent this season and he’ll miss the cut at the 2019 U.S. Open despite his successful history at Pebble Beach.
2019 U.S. Open Runner-Up
Walton- Brooks Koepka

It’s incredibly difficult to bet against the Major prowess of Brooks Koepka. Not much can be revealed that hasn’t already been hammered home this past week, and even this past year. Not even 30 yet and he is coming off a tie for second at this year’s Masters as well as a successful title defense at the PGA Championship.

Add in that Koepka is already the reigning back-to-back U.S. Open champion and the facts and figures make it nearly impossible to not make him the frontrunner on every poll. That being said, chalk this prediction more up to a gut reaction. The three-peat is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplishment in golf especially coming into a course like Pebble Beach.

I still believe Koepka will turn in a solid, contending performance this week but I just don’t see him winning his 5th Major, at least not yet.
Mullenix- Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay is playing the best golf of his career. A pair of T3’s at the RBC Heritage and the PGA Championship were followed by an incredible win at the Memorial including a Sunday 64. Eventually, Cantlay is going to get a major, but it won’t be this week. I just don’t have faith in him at majors after what happened to him on the back nine at Augusta.

He looked very uncomfortable and two bogeys in the final three holes took him out of the running quickly. Don’t be surprised to see him near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday, but he needs to be in contention at a major one more time before he actually gets it done.

2019 U.S. Open Champion
Walton- Rory McIlroy

Simply stated, Rory is on a roll. In 13 events played this season McIlroy has finished top-10 in 10 of those tournaments. Six of those were top-5 performances including two victories. Just last week he took home the RBC Canadian Open by a staggering seven strokes following a final round of 61 (which could’ve been a 59) to finish with a tournament total of 22-under par.

Speaking to his stats he currently sits first in Strokes Gained: Total, Off the Tee and Tee to Green as well as the best on tour average for eagles made. Additionally, since 2014 McIlroy currently sits in the top three performers on poa annua greens at 2.93 strokes gained total. (behind Dustin Johnson and Jason Day)

The Northern Ireland native knows what it takes to battle against heavy hitters like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka. This week, with momentum on his side and his confidence at an all-time high, McIlroy is undoubtedly a front runner to win his second U.S. Open and his 5th major championship.
Mullenix- Dustin Johnson

Nine years is a long time for demons to hang around and DJ’s win at Oakmont in 2016 effectively exorcised the demons from his collapse at the 2010 U.S. Open. DJ has a great track record at Pebble including back-to-back wins at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2009-10.

While it isn’t the same course presented for a U.S. Open that players find in February, history has shown that four of the five U.S. Open winners at Pebble Beach also won the Pro-Am at some point. Over his last 12 rounds, Johnson has 10 rounds in the 60s including four rounds of 69 or better at the PGA Championship where he finished in solo second. DJ gets it done at Pebble and wins his second major championship.

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Mickelson eyes Career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach

As father time ticks away, this week’s U.S. Open from Pebble Beach could be the last real opportunity for five-time major champion Phil Mickelson to complete the coveted grand slam of golf. The four-time All-American tees it up, alongside 155 other top players in the world, in his home state of California this Thursday.

Three times in his 27-year professional career the legend known as ‘Lefty’ has donned the green jacket as Masters Champion (2004, 2006, 2010). Add a PGA Championship in 2005 and The Open Championship in 2013 and just one more piece of the puzzle remains. Placing that last piece of the puzzle is easier said than done with a hard-hitting group of top contenders including Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy surrounding you.
Mickelson’s U.S. Open History
In 27 starts at the U.S. Open, Mickelson has yet to take home the trophy despite making the cut a remarkable 89-percent of the time (24 of 27 made cuts). Almost inconceivably, he has finished in the top-10 on 10 separate occasions. Six of those top-10 finishes saw Mickelson fall just short of the title in the runner-up position.

Throughout his career, Mickelson has played a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach three different years. Starting in 1992 with a missed cut, he has improved every outing since. In 2000 he found himself in a tie for 16th while 2010 ‘Lefty’ took charge with a tie for 4th.

With six-second place finishes including Pinehurst (1999), Bethpage Black (2002, 2009), Shinnecock (2004), Winged Foot (2006) and Merion (2013), Mickelson has been on the cusp but has never been able to make that final leap into the winner’s circle.

Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course, the site of Mickelson’s 2006 runner-up finish, will be the host site next year for the 2020 U.S. Open. Despite his past success, the 14-year difference on Mickelson’s abilities may put the 7,264-yard length of Winged Foot out of reach for what will be a 50-year old Phil Mickelson.

Despite being 17th in driving distance this season, Mickelson still comes in 78th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 100th in strokes gained off-the-tee. While this year’s U.S. Open may not be a bomber’s paradise, keeping steady off the tee is an essential aspect for any victor to have in his bag. Luckily for Phil, he more than knows his way around the sprawling California oasis known as Pebble Beach.
Familiarity factor at Pebble Beach
An illustrious career has yielded Mickelson 44 PGA Tour victories. Five of which have come at none other than Pebble Beach Golf Links. While certainly a tale of two courses from the time-honored Pebble Beach Pro-Am to the USGA’s treacherous U.S. Open set up, the familiarity factor cannot be underestimated.

Four of his five Pebble Beach Pro-Am victories have come by a margin of two strokes or greater. Just this past February, Mickelson recorded his latest PGA Tour victory at this very course. With a 7-under final round of 65, the 12-time Ryder Cup participant bested England’s Paul Casey by three strokes.

Suffice to say Mickelson has plenty of fans cheering him on come Sunday, which ironically enough will be his 49th birthday. One such fan is the widely known, and respected, Jim Nantz who predicted Mickelson to win this year’s U.S. Open.

Back in January when he spoke with Golf Channel, Nantz stated “I think [Phil]’s gonna win at Pebble… I want to put that on the record right now. I think Phil is going to win the U.S. Open.”  With the storyline seemingly writing itself, fast forward nearly six months and Mickelson is hitting a hole-in-one at Nantz’s backyard replica of Pebble Beach’s par-3 7th hole.

Course history, celebrity endorsements, and backyard aces aside, while Mickelson may not be the best off the tee his short game precision is well documented. The shorter the club the better for ‘Lefty’ and with the reports of thick rough, small greens, and pinpoint placement with your wedges a near unanimous necessity, Mickelson already has a leg up on the competition.
The Last Word
At 49-years young by weeks end, Mickelson will rely on his precision, short game success, and valuable history at Pebble Beach to become the sixth golfer to complete the career grand slam in what may be Lefty’s best opportunity remaining to check off one more legendary feat in an already storied career.

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Tiger Woods Riding Momentum into U.S. Open

Tiger Woods is riding momentum heading into the 2019 U.S. Open in a few weeks. Woods shot a tremendous 67 on Sunday at the Memorial Tournament. He finished at -9, which included five birdies in the first nine holes. The face of the PGA Tour brought forth a strong outing this weekend and likely could have finished in the top five. But, he bogeyed two holes late in the final round to finish at nine under par for the tournament. The strong showing from Woods this past weekend has put him in a good position on the Tour this season. 
Tiger Woods Riding Momentum into U.S. Open
His win at the Masters really set the tone for him to have a solid year of golf. At the Memorial, Woods came in on Thursday and Friday slacking a bit but picked it up on Saturday and Sunday. His terrific final round helped build his momentum swing. The three-time U.S Open winner will go into Pebble Beach in two weeks with high expectations. Tiger is seeking his first Open win since 2008, where he roared to victory that marvelous Sunday. But can he do it again? 


Pebble Beach Flashbacks
With a great lineup of golfers set to take the course, Woods will have to be on his best game. The pairings won’t be announced until another week or so, but Tiger knows what it takes to win at Pebble Beach. He won the 2000 U.S. Open at this historic course. The main key for Woods this time around will be his drives off the tee and his putting. In driving off-the-tee, Woods ranks at 70th on Tour with a .204 percentage. If he can build upon that, the face of golf can have a solid chance going into the weekend. He ranks second in greens in regulation at 72%. 

Going back to another historic win at the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods was favored and won the tournament once again at Pebble Beach. Fast forward to 2019. He may not be the favorite going in, but never count out Tiger for being in heavy contention on Saturday and Sunday.

Every golf fan knows what Woods can accomplish when it matters most. A win in two weeks would put Tiger close to the top in the FedEx Cup standings, which would be tremendous for him. He currently sits at 20, but a strong outing, if not a win, would put the American close to the top yet again. Tiger winning the Major tournaments is a great thing for the PGA Tour. Through all his troubles, the man is back. 
Chasing Jack Nicklaus
Despite a few rough outings lately, Tiger can pull through and become the FedEx Cup leader yet again. What better place to do it than at the U.S. Open? Yes, this is a different era of golf and Tiger Woods in general. However, he has shown that he can remain close with the leaders multiple times this season. If he can do it again, another trophy might be added to his collection. Also, a win would give Tiger his 16th major championship. One closer to Jack Nicklaus and his astounding 18 major victories. 

Golf fans around the world want Tiger to get the record, and they know it can happen. Woods just has to play his best game and win these tournaments. 

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