The U.S. Open begins next Thursday at one of the most iconic American golf courses, Pebble Beach. The northern California gem is regularly ranked as the top public course in the country (with a hefty price to play) and although we see it every year for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the course will look very different this week.
The USGA prides itself on torturing testing golfers with greens as hard and fast as your kitchen floor, tall rough, narrow fairways, and tees pushed as far back as possible. For the Pro-Am, Pebble Beach plays pretty easy, which is by design given that there are 10-15 handicaps that have to hack it around there, but this week it’ll show its teeth and remind everyone of how difficult it can play.
Last time the U.S. Open was contested at Pebble, Tiger Woods won by 15 strokes with a score of 12-under, with Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez as the next closest competitors at 3-over. Woods will be back in the field this week as one of the favorites, and the only other player that played in 2000 that most would give a chance this week is Phil Mickelson — who still is chasing a U.S. Open title to complete the career Grand Slam.
Mickelson has been at Pebble getting ready this week, but he’s not just limiting practice to the course itself. He’s getting his wedges dialed at legendary golf announcer Jim Nantz’s home at the course. Mickelson posted a video on Wednesday of him holing a shot at Nantz’s mini-replica of the seventh at Pebble, narrated by Nantz and leading to quite the celebration from Phil.
There’s a lot happening here. First, for anyone that didn’t know how amazing Jim Nantz’s house is, well, now you do. Second, I choose to believe the Masters piano music plays on a loop 24 hours a day outside the Nantz estate, setting the mood for all activities: golf on the mini par-3, grilling, drinking wine, etc. Nantz could narrate just about anything golf related and make it better, and I appreciate we got a little Nantz in our lives this week since the U.S. Open is a Fox broadcast, not CBS.
As for Phil, it seems as if he has the wedges dialed in, but that’s never the issue for Lefty. He’s a healthy underdog this week and for good reason, as he struggles at courses where driving accuracy is critical and wayward misses off the tee are heavily punished.