Can Brooks Koepka Master The Field at the US Open Once Again?
If there has been one man that has been the dominant force in golf’s four Major tournaments over the last few years, then there is no doubt that it is the current World Ranked number 1 golfer, Brooks Koepka, that has been the man to back in these massive tournaments.
It seems incredible to think that prior to 2017, Koepka was just one of a number of talented American golfers yet to make it through to the big time and win a Major. However, Koepka’s success in the 2017 US Open would prove to be the catalyst for a stunning rise up the rankings and the first of four Major titles claimed within a two-year spell.
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After winning the US Open in 2017, Koepka then returned a year later in 2018 and landed a rare back-to-back win in the tournament, the first player since Curtis Strange at the tail end of the 1980s to produce the feat. Not content with that, he then won the 2018 USPGA Title and then when the USPGA moved in the calendar to May this year, he also landed the 2019 version as well to land a double-double of wins in two of the three biggest golf tournaments in the United States. As such Koepka’s name is pretty near the top of the list when it comes to golfers’ people want to back for the tournament this year.
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So what does Koepka have facing him as he seeks to become the first player since Peter Thomson in the 1950s to land three of the same Major tournaments back to back? Let’s now preview the US Open in a bit more detail to find out.
US Open 2019
This year’s tournament heads back to Pebble Beach for the sixth time in US Open history. The famous Californian course has held the US Open in 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000 and 2010. Jack Nicklaus landed victory in 72, followed by Tom Watson in 1982 and Tom Kite in 1992. Tiger Woods landed a record-breaking win by 15 shots and was the only player under par when winning in 2000 while in 2010 the only non-American player to win the tournament at Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, was the tournament victor.
The course has also hosted the USPGA Championship once too, back in 1977 when Lanny Wadkins landed the victory in the only other Major to be contested on this course.
A total of 156 golfers will start the tournament chasing a share of a prize pool of $12,500,000, with the winner taking a sizeable $2,250,000 cheque for victory.
Pebble Beach is a famous course with a number of eye-catching holes, most notably the seventh, a short par 3 which sees players teeing off towards the sea towards a small green, and the 18th which is a massive par five with a tree in the middle of a fairway and a bunker of over 100 yards in length running alongside the fairway and up to the green.
The quirky nature of the course is emphasised by the fact that the 6th is a 523 yard par five, while the 9th is three yards longer at 526 yards, but will be played as a par four for the US Open.
Course Layout and Card
- 1st – 380 yards – Par 4
- 2nd – 516 yards – Par 4
- 3rd – 404 yards – Par 4
- 4th – 331 yards – Par 4
- 5th – 195 yards – Par 3
- 6th – 523 yards – Par 5
- 7th – 109 yards – Par 3
- 8th – 428 yards – Par 4
- 9th – 526 yards – Par 4
- 10th – 495 yards – Par 4
- 11th – 390 yards – Par 4
- 12th – 202 yards – Par 3
- 13th – 445 yards – Par 4
- 14th – 580 yards – Par 5
- 15th – 397 yards – Par 4
- 16th – 403 yards – Par 4
- 17th – 208 yards – Par 3
- 18th – 543 yards – Par 5
Total, 7075 yards (Par 71)
Koepka’s Chance at Golfing Immortality
While winning two of the same Major tournaments back to back is not unheard of, in recent times Curtis Strange, Padraig Harrington, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods (who has done it five times in total) along with Koepka himself, have all managed the feat, landing three in a row is incredibly rare.
Indeed in the history of The Masters this feat has never been achieved. Walter Hagen did it in the USPGA Championship winning in 1924, 1925 and 1926, while in the US Open, it was only the winner in the first few years of the tournament’s history, Scot Willie Anderson who achieved the feat in 1903, 1904 and 1905.
While three-in-a-row has been achieved more often in the older British Open Championship, particularly during the 1800s , it has not been achieved in that tournament since the 1950s, when Peter Thomson of New Zealand won in 1954, 1955 and 1956.
In total just six players, none since 1956, have won three of the same Major tournament back to back. It is a feat that has eluded the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Severiano Ballesteros, Gary Player, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.
Who should I back to win the US Open?
Brooks Koepka is currently a 9/1 second favourite to win the US Open once again and I have to be honest and say that this is a hugely tempting bet. Not only due to the fact he has a chance at becoming a golfing immortal, but also because he is generally playing the best golf in the world right now.
However, his main challengers are likely to be Dustin Johnson, who pushed him very hard at last months USPGA Championship in New York, and Irishman Rory McIlroy, both of whom are 8/1 shots with McIlroy in particular hitting form at the right time after a 7-stroke victory at the Canadian Open last weekend, where he shot a stunning 61 on the final round.
As you would expect in a Major, the field is very strong and there are any number of players from all over the world who could end up holding the trophy aloft, including a number of former Champions of this tournament, such as Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Webb Simpson. Add to that the likes of Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffle, Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey and Francesco Molinari and you can appreciate the depth of quality in the field.
Personally, I’d back Koepka to win it, but I’d also have a little nibble each way on UK ace Tommy Fleetwood who has performed well in the past two US Open Championships and is due a bit of luck to win a big one sooner rather than later.