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U.S. Open featuring late-night television

Here are a few thoughts on this week’s major golf event — our national championship, the U.S. Open:

The course

This year’s tournament is being held at Pebble Beach Golf Links, perhaps the most famous golf course in the world.

June 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the course’s opening. It will also be the sixth time that Pebble Beach has hosted a U.S. Open.

Previous winners include Jack Nicklaus (1972), Tom Watson (1982) and Tiger Woods (2000).

The course is world-renowned for its beautiful scenery, which includes the rocky cliffs and sandy beaches that border the course’s Pacific shoreline.

I had the great fortune to visit the course and play 18 glorious holes on a picture-perfect, sunny day two years ago.

It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

History

Only one time in U.S. Open history has a golfer won three consecutive titles. Scottish-born golf professional Willie Anderson turned the trick way back in 1903-05.

American Brooks Koepka has a chance to match the feat this weekend. He captured the title at Erin Hills in 2017 and repeated as a winner at Shinnecock Hills last year.

A win this week will put Koepka atop the record books.

Course setup

The USGA, which oversees all of our national championships, is under intense scrutiny this weekend.

The organization has faced heavy criticism for its course setup and rules decisions at U.S. Opens in recent years. This year will be a chance for redemption, and the iconic Pebble Beach course presents a perfect venue.

Pebble Beach might just be too perfect for anyone mess up. If they do, however, there should be major changes made at the USGA.

Viewing

Fox Sports has covered the U.S. Open since 2015, and their lead team of broadcasters, including Joe Buck and Paul Azinger, do a reasonably good job.

Several years ago, Azinger replaced original lead analyst Greg Norman, who seemed overmatched for the job. An all-time great golfer, Norman would often respond to dramatic on-air play with an awkward silence.

This year’s coverage will be especially enjoyable due to the fact that live action will be televised deep into the evening hours. With the event being held in California, viewers in the eastern U.S. will enjoy live golf each night until nearly 11 p.m.

My pick

Oddsmakers have made Dustin Johnson this year’s favorite to win. Close behind is Koepka, followed by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.

I don’t consider myself a front-runner, but I’m picking Johnson anyway.

Johnson has won two regular tour events at Pebble Beach and was also the third-round leader at Pebble Beach when the Open was last played there in 2010 (before faltering to a final round of 82). Despite that poor finish, I think Johnson is prime to win his second U.S. Open title this weekend.

Down River

The local best-ball season begins this week at Everett’s Down River Golf Course.

One of the favorites this weekend will be the defending team of Artie Fink Jr. and Anthony DeGol, two of the best amateur golfers in the area. The duo captured three titles last year, including the Summit Invitational last Augus.

That particular win brought Fink’s amazing, local best-ball victory total to 50.

Another of the noteworthy teams will be the pairing of Iron Masters’ Rick Grubb and Wes Elder.

Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. He can be reached at gltr777@atlanticbb.net.

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