Koepka, Woods chase history at Pebble Beach

Florence Fletcher
June 14, 2019

After closing rounds of 64 and 61 to cap a rampaging win at the Canadian Open on Sunday, McIlroy will be hoping his blazing finish translates into a hot start at the Pebble Beach Golf Links setting him up for a title challenge.

Other notable players on the course are Tiger Woods, who just teed off a few minutes ago, along with Jordan Spieth.

Rory McIlroy is two shots off the early clubhouse lead at the US Open in benign day one conditions at Pebble Beach.

He played alongside five-time major victor Phil Mickelson, trying to complete the career grand slam with a first US Open triumph after six runner-up finishes. Johnson has won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am twice and was runner-up twice.

Attribute some of that to the weather.

Bunkers are framed with thick rough and wispy grass around the edges, giving it a natural look.

The fairways were slow and the greens receptive.

"We're going into this week with a great plan, and part of that plan is to do what we've always done", said John Bodenhamer, the senior managing director of championships for the USGA. And that's what I need to do most, is just slowly keep reinforcing that - whether I'm going to get back to number one in the world or I am a good player. "It is truly magnificent". During the PGA Tour stop, it's the easiest of the event's three courses without wind, the toughest when it blows.

"Now, we've got five weeks here (including next month's Open Championship) and then the majors are over for another nine months, so you've kind of got to (make it) happen if you want something special to happen". That's true at most U.S. Opens - or used to be. "More focus, definitely. but less thinking", said Li.

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Pebble Beach features the smallest greens on the PGA Tour and will suit McIlroy's sharp iron play.

Koepka and Mickelson have the most at stake for this U.S. Open.

Asked how a first major win since 2014 would feel, the Northern Irishman said: "Liberating, satisfying, I mean, there's a lot of different words you could use to describe what it would feel like".

"And if I've learned one thing about the U.S. Open overall these years, it is [that] your distance control has to be spot on".

"Everybody gets off at some point in their career, and if I can make this kind of - if this is the past year or so results-wise, off for me, then - and I can use these kind of blueprints of how I've gotten back as kind of my set places to go to, then things should stay in place a lot easier and not get as far off", Spieth said.

"You have to look at those guys differently", Mickelson said. I had a chance to win.

So the USGA has spent extra time leading up to this year's tournament talking to dozens of players about how best to lay out the course so it can still achieve the goal of being the "toughest test" in golf, while not crossing the line and being unfair to the players.

The tournament, which runs through Sunday, is expected to draw more than 250,000 attendees to the attractive coastside golf course.

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