Pebble Beach Golf Links is set to host its 6th U.S. Open June 13-16 when the golfing world descends on California’s picturesque Monterrey Peninsula for the season’s 3rd major. The tournament was first contested in 1895, making it the 2nd oldest major championship after the Open Championship. The tournament, hosted by the USGA, is famous for its harsh conditions and this year is no different. Before every U.S. Open, the host course receives a “facelift” to ensure that even the most skilled golfers in the world often struggle for par. This year is no different with the famous Pebble Beach, widely considered to be one of the best courses in the world, having its fairways thinned, its rough grown out and its greens made as fast as possible. The U.S. Open is unique in that many of its winners have carded over par, such is the difficulty of the course. One example of that is reigning U.S. Open champion, Brooks Koepka.
2018 Champion Brooks Koepka
Getty Images/Ross Kinnaird
Koepka entered the 2018 U.S. Open as the defending champion and was attempting to be the first repeat winner since Curtis Strange in 1988-1989. The tournament was played at the infamously difficult Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Koepka was part of a 4-way tie for 1st place with Daniel Berger, Tony Finau and Dustin Johnson, with Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson just 1 and 2 strokes back, respectively. However, Koepka’s main challenger would end up being Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood, who started the round a full 6 strokes behind the leaders. Koepka kept the pace at the front of the pack, jumping to an early solo lead with 3 birdies on the front 9. However, Fleetwood began making up ground quickly. Fleetwood’s 56-foot putt for par on the 2nd hole showed his intent, and a further 3 birdies on the front-9 put the rest of the field on notice. Fleetwood then proceeded to hit 4 straight birdies on holes 12-15 to go 1 behind Koepka. On the 18th hole, Fleetwood set up an 8 foot birdie putt to force a playoff and card the U.S. Open’s first round of 62, but instead his putt went agonizingly wide of the hole to hand Koepka his second U.S. Open win with a score of +1.
Koepka has shown his penchant for winning major champions, adding the PGA Championship to his haul just a month ago. For folks counting, that means that 50% of the past 8 majors belong to Mr. Koepka. Koepka had a tough time at last week’s Canadian Open, finishing T50, but his form in major tournaments could make Koepka the first man to win 3 consecutive U.S. Opens since Willie Anderson over 100 years ago. Fleetwood also returns looking for his first major championship win after coming so close last year. Matt Kuchar and Rory McIlroy look to be on form heading into the tournament and remain contenders. Tiger Woods, in search of a record tying 82nd PGA Tour win, returns to the site of the 2000 U.S. Open where he won by an unmatched 15 shot margin. Many spectators will be looking at Phil Mickelson, a 6-time U.S. Open runner up, as he looks to finally finish his career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach. Mickelson has won 5 times at Pebble Beach, most recently in February as he took the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am honors. One thing is for certain: this will be one of the most competitive tournaments of the entire year and one golf fans will not want to miss.
Phil Mickelson. AP photo
With tickets to the tournament rounds sold out, most fans will be catching the tournament on television courtesy of FOX Sports 1 and FOX. The first two rounds are available Thursday and Friday starting 12:30-7:30pm ET on FOX Sports 1 before switching to FOX from 7:30-10:30pm ET. Saturday coverage will be from noon-10pm ET on FOX while Sunday coverage is 2-10pm ET on FOX. Radio coverage is available on both PGA Tour Radio and FOX Sports on SiriusXM. Live streaming of the tournament is being provided by USGA of featured groups and holes at this link.