By Aaron M Smith
After two months of a steady diet of NHL and NBA playoffs, June has brought on a new flavor to our sports infused diet. June has brought us World Cup soccer and starting tomorrow – U.S. Open Golf. Yes, golf is back in the limelight and this time around, the U.S. Open is going West Coast Style – Pebble Beach to be exact. Opened in 1919 and designed by James Neville, Pebble Beach golf course is known for its spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. 6,828 yards and a Par 72, – if it sounds good, well you too can play Pebble Beach. Probably not this week, but it can be done. Just be prepared to mortgage the family home as a round of 18 will cost you $495… plus another $35 for a cart.
Of the previous 109 U.S. Open tournaments, Pebble Beach has hosted 4 previous U.S. Opens. Past winners at Pebble Beach are:
1972 – Jack Nicklaus
1982 – Tom Watson
1992 – Tom Kite
2000 – Tiger Woods
The U.S Open has developed the reputation of being tough on the golfers. Higher then usual rough (“Open rough” as it is commonly referred as), pinched fairways and tough pin placements, leave the golfers beaten after 4 rounds. In fact don’t be surprised if you see even par in contention come Sunday. In 2006 and 2007, the U.S. Open winner finished at a +5 for the tournament.
So who are the favorites? Well if the past U.S. Opens have taught us anything – expect the unexpected. Last year, Lucas Glover and Ricky Barnes came out of nowhere to battle it out on Sunday. The year before – Rocco Mediate. So who is this year’s surprise contender? Well one player not being talked about – Tiger Woods. Tiger arrives at Pebble Beach in an unique spot – he not on the short list of favorites. Names like Mickelson, Villegas, Rose, Els and others are mentioned before Woods. In fact Woods is so far out of the limelight – I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the tournament Woods makes a run.
So who will win the 2010 U.S. Open? Do we have another Lucas Glover? Another Frances Quimet? Or will it be a dominating performance by someone like Tiger Woods? No one knows. But starting Thursday morning, 156 golfers will attempt to write their names in the history book as the 110th winner of the U.S. Open. Will you be watching?
Me? I expect to get a healthy serving of U.S. Open golf this weekend. After all – it only comes around once a year.