by Jeff Skinner
In recent years television has done a great job as far as getting the majors more air time and the US Open at Pebble beach is no different. ESPN and NBC will be showing plenty of action and much of it in prime time throughout the weekend. Every Open at Pebble has had a dramatic ending and this one probably will follow that trend. Here are some players that will be fun to watch and some will be there at the end on Sunday.
Most of the players are dreaming of being in the hunt on Sunday afternoon. Erik Compton doesn’t have to wait until Sunday for his dream to be fulfilled. He is living his dream just by teeing it up at his first Open. As a matter of fact, he lives his dream every day. He is the heart transplant recipient that had transplants at age twelve and again at twenty-seven. Making it to the weekend would be just another small miracle in a life that is one huge miracle. Eddie Pells AP article.
Tiger and Phil and Phil and Tiger. You can’t talk about one without the other this week, at least until one of them misses the cut. Any major is a big tournament for these two but this one could have huge ramifications for either golfer. If Phil wins he’ll officially supplant Woods as world number one. He already is the de facto number one and a win will just make it official. Phil is looking to break out of his lock on second place at the Open, he has five seconds and he isn’t happy with any of them. If Tiger plays well and finishes top ten it may be a sign that he is finding his way back to his high level of play. If he wins it would be a miracle. If he plays poorly and misses the cut, he’ll be sinking further into that slump he denies that he is in. Either way, Phil and Tiger always make it special when they are near the lead of any major. Rosaforte’s Golf Digest article.
Lee Westwood has been so close in recent majors that many think he is a lock for this one. The problem is that he won last week. Normally a win is a good thing and for sure it is for Westwood. Unfortunately for Westwood no player that won the week before the Open has ever gone on to win the US Open. Westwood would like to change that. PGA Tour video.
As in any Open the USGA makes it extremely difficult for those golfers that can’t hit the fairway. At Pebble this year many long hitters have said they’ll hit less drivers in order to stay in the short grass. Accurate drivers will be rewarded and Jim Furyk and Zach Johnson are two straight drivers with a major each and a few wins already this season. Either of them could be there on Sunday afternoon.
Talk about a comfort zone, Dustin Johnson is very comfortable at Pebble Beach. He has won twice here, including this season. Sure, Pebble during the AT&T bears little resemblance to a Pebble under a USGA setup, but Johnson’s history here means he can contend for his first major.
Another short hitter that I like to watch is Tim Clark. He ranks second in driving accuracy and third in putting on the PGA Tour. That’s a lethal combination at an Open. He has already broken through with his first win and if he can put his big dog and the short stick together this week he may just be holding that big trophy.
Pebble Beach, The US Open and Tom Watson, it doesn’t get any better. The USGA did the right thing in inviting the 1982 champion. The way he has played the past year and his history at Pebble Beach certainly warranted a return to the scene of what he calls his greatest win. We have seen a lot of Watson on The Golf Channel recently and watching him play at Pebble once again will be a treat. Golf Channel video.
The coolest guy in golf is back in the states and looking to spread his cool across the links of Pebble Beach. Miguel Angel Jimenez is back at the scene of his best major finish. He and Ernie Els tied for second in 2000 when Tiger cruised to a twelve stroke win. Miguel will surely be sampling some of Cali’s best red wine this week.