As we head to the wonderful Pebble Beach Golf Links for the second Major of the year, golfing pundits, bloggers, analysts and fans alike are bound to reminisce in the remarkable events of the 2000 US Open when the championship was last held at the hallow links in California.
Tiger Woods blew away the golfing world that week, posting the US Open’s lowest ever four-round under-par total (-12), strolling to a 15-stroke victory.
However, with this surely in mind, the USGA have made a number of changes which make this score near impossible for the 2010 US Open. Some holes, like the 10th, have been extended by 50 yards and the 13th requires a tee-shot carry of 270 yards, probably into wind, over a massive fairway bunker. As Paul Goydos proved in the 2010 AT&T with a destructive 9 on the 14th, you should be prepared to see some high scores and subsequently high drama.
You can also be prepared to watch a winner from the top of the game. Previous winners at Pebble Beach include Woods, Tom Kite, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. The course at Pebble Beach only demands the very best. Like every US Open course in the modern era, it suits those who can bomb the ball off the tee. But let’s be fair, this is no grip-it-and-rip-it course – this is one of the best tracks in world golf that only the top strategists can master.
With sloping fairways, firm greens, thin fairway-landing areas, copious fairway bunkers, narrow aprons and high winds, this is a links which demands shot-shaping at its very best. You need to put the ball in exact spots to have clear views of greens and to avoid hanging lies, while controlling the ball through the winds on holes like the 109-yard 7th will require real class.
This all sounds like a course which Tiger would relish, and he certainly will, but with his struggle for form, be prepared for another big name to shine over Pebble Beach this time. The length off the tee, the ability to find greens, shape the ball, play strategically and strike the ball perfectly all point to a certain on-form Englishman, Lee Westwood.
Lee’s taken some flak about his bottle and his short game when it comes to a Sunday afternoon, especially after a number of near-misses in the Majors. But what better way to prove the doubters wrong by placing his name alongside Woods, Kite, Watson and Nicklaus at the best golf course in the United States.