2019 U.S. Open Preview: Tiger Returns to the Scene of Glory

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods returns to the site of his greatest triumph with the start of the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

In the year 2000, Woods put on an astonishing display of golf winning the championship by a whopping 15 strokes over runner-up Ernie Els. That was no misprint, with the greatest golfers in the world all assembled, Tiger beat them by 15 strokes over 4 rounds. Tiger was 12 under par. No other player came within 3 strokes of par. A strong argument could be made it’s the most dominant performance in any sport. You could say Secretariat winning the Belmont by 31 lengths, but it’s important to remember that Secretariat was a horse. I personally think Woods’ performance just edges out George Brett in game 3 of the 1985 American league Championship Series. In a must win game vs. Toronto down 2-0, Brett went 4-4 with 2 home runs with great fielding and base running.

Still, Tiger was dominant over 4 days while Brett just had one magical night.

As far as most dominant performances, it was definitely not the U.S. Women’s soccer blowout of Thailand. That would win most embarrassing and classless display of sportsmanship since Charles “Too Mean” Martin body slammed Jim McMahon five seconds after the play ended. And in Too Mean’s defense, who didn’t want to body slam that punk McMahon? What a disgrace celebrating a goal like maniacs freed from an institution when it puts you up 12-0 over Thailand. Thailand barely plays soccer. They’re busy working and spending time with family. The Thai also happen to be some of the most gentle, pleasant people on earth. To rub it into these people’s faces is so gross. Megan Rapinoe’s scissoring goal celebration to go up 9-0 was NSFW, NC-17 and capital N for Nasty.

Tiger comes into the 2019 U.S. Open in good form having placed in the top 10 at the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago. Pebble Beach sets up better for his game than Augusta National does and we know how that turned out. He knows the intricacies of Pebble and since it’s not a bombers course, Tiger will be able to use his keen intellect and savvy to work his way around by hitting driving irons and 3-woods off the tee. He will definitely be in the mix this week but his luck was all used up at the Masters so he’ll have to settle for a top 10. And yes, Tiger did get lucky at the Masters. While all the golf writers were tripping over themselves in praising Tiger, rightfully so, few mentioned how lucky he was to win. He shot 70 on the final day. That normally, would not have been good enough to win but Woods was fortunate usually rock-solid Francesco Molinari and Brooks Koepka choked. Maybe it was the looming specter of Tiger’s red shirt that brought on the choke, he was still very fortunate to win with such a pedestrian Sunday score.

One of the following five players will win this week:

Brooks Koepka- he is the favorite going forward in every major championship until further notice. Total stud that shows up when it counts. He loves pressure. If Rory McIlroy had his mindset he’d have 10 majors right now. Brandel Chamblee was asked 3 weeks ago on a podcast which golfers could challenge Tiger Woods as the best going forward. He did not mention Brooks Koepka. That is gross incompetence for a golf analyst. Never mind the question is sort of ridiculous because Tiger again got very lucky to win the Masters and is not one of the top 3 golfers in the world, nor has he been in 5 years. You still have to mention Brooks Koepka or it’s a dereliction of duty. Shame on you Brandel Chamblee. I would have tweeted this at him but he blocked me on Twitter. Coward.

Rory McIlroy- I would have him as the favorite if he didn’t bogey 2 of the last 3 holes at the Canadian Open to negate any chance of shooting 59. He did shoot 61 though so that’s pretty good. The golf world really would love for Rory to win this major. He is beloved and rightfully so. Charming and kind are not words usually associated with great athletes. Rory is the exception. Now he has to go out and prove he’s a closer.

Jordan Spieth- Don’t forget about Jordan! Still a money player when the pressure gets high and his game is rounding into form. He’s won the Pebble beach Pro-Am so has had success here. He will be in the mix on Sunday.

Patrick Cantlay- look out for the man in black. This could be the breakout performance for a kid who has always had a top-notch golf pedigree including being the #1 ranked amateur in the world. Coming off a win at The Memorial last month, look for Cantlay’s name amongst the leaders come Sunday.

Francesco Molinari- I think he got a bad rap as being a choker at the Masters. Yes, the tee shot at 12 was a gag but he got very unlucky on 15 when his ball hit a small tree branch and went in the water. Molinari said he thought the shot would have been within 5 feet of the hole had it not hit the branch. That would have put him in the lead with Tiger. His ball striking is still unmatched by anyone on tour at this point and his putting and short game is solid as usual. Francesco is my pick to win at Pebble Beach come Sunday.

Dan Redmond can be found on Twitter @danfromdc

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