Ask The Expert: Pebble Beach and the 2019 US Open PGA Tour

With over 20 years of golfing experience, Teed Up Golf Tours’ Director of Golf, Michael (Mike) Mosher, sits down to share his insights on everything to do with Pebble Beach, including this year’s US Open PGA Tour.

Mike has extensive golfing experience and has been rated a AAA golf professional for the last 15 years. Mike is also a multi-awarded PGA Golf Professional playing not only throughout Australasia, but also in Canada and Japan.

If we rewind our clocks to roughly a year ago, we would remember the image of Brooks Koepka clutching his second consecutive US Open trophy in 2018. Some instead will remember it though for that moment Phil Mockelson, a six-time runner up in the event, running after his ball and stopping it before it rolled off the 13th green. Instead of a possible disqualification, Mickelson was penalised two strokes and made a 10 on his way to an 81 – definitely one of the most memorable moments of the tournament.

Fast forward to today, and Brooks Koepka is looking to make it a hat-trick of consecutive US Opens – and is widely touted to do so.

We asked Mike Mosher about how he fancies Koepka’s chances to make it three-in-a-row.

“I think it’s going to be a big call. The history books aren’t on his side. It’s been over 100 years since someone has won the US Open three times in a row. I feel he will be fatigued, especially because there’s going to be tougher competition at Pebble Beach than there was at Bethpage. But having said that, we’ll have to wait and see. After all, Koepka has won four out of eight starts, which is an unbelievable feat! Let’s see come June 13!”

Speaking of the competition for this years 2019 US Open, Mike gave us his top challengers to Brooks Koepka…

“DJ (Dustin Johnson) should be the favourite to dethrone Koepka; he’s had great results at Pebble Beach in the past, and he’s hitting form at the right time. DJ is also a personal favourite of mine. Brooks and DJ were neck and neck at Bethpage and DJ nearly stole it from his buddy…even the crowd were cheering DJ’s name on the 14th, but unfortunately he couldn’t capitalise on Koepka’s struggles late on.

“Phil Mickelson has the best history at Pebble Beach in the field. He’s a home favourite and definitely knows the cut of the grass better than most out there.

“Jason Day is the shining light from the Australians. He hasn’t had the best of luck with injuries, and he’s been battling back issues pretty much the whole year. But I’m hoping he’ll do well at the Open and fly the flag proud for the Aussies.

“I’d give my wildcard and outsider vote to Tommy Fleetwood. He finished a tied-third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before a strong show at the Players Championship. He’s a bit of a novice when it comes to the US Open, but you never know…his form has been impressive lately.

“I would also like to mention Justin Rose. Despite leaving early at the Masters, he was actually rated by the bookmakers as the third most likely to win at the start of the tournament. Rose would definitely want to bounce back on a big stage and the US Open might be his calling”

Interestingly, there was no mention of Tiger Woods among those who will stand a chance to challenge Koepka this year. Here’s what Mike had to say about that:

“Don’t get me wrong; Tiger loves the place, the course suits him and he’ll definitely feel at home. But I do feel he’ll have a hard time on the greens, and they may prove to be a little too bumpy for him. He missed the cut at the US PGA Championship but will be hungry to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of career Majors. He said in an interview that he always thought it was possible to break the record, especially if everything went his way. I share his passion, but I don’t think he’ll be up there with the likes of Koepka, DJ and Justin Rose.”

Turning our attention away slightly from this year’s US Open, we asked Mike what his fondest memories were of US Opens of the past…

“The obvious one for me, and for many others out there, has to be the iconic 2000 Tiger Woods victory. It was during the second round that Woods, facing a horrendous lie in the rough, smashed a seven-iron over a tree, around the ocean and up a mountain onto the 6th green to set up an eagle putt. It was that display of power, guts and precision that led Maltbie to all but concede the tournament to Woods. He was unrelenting on the weekend, including a bogey-free 67 on Sunday that led to a record 15-stroke victory. The Tiger Slam had begun.

“Notable as well back in 1982, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus were going down the stretch together in a ding-dong battle, and Watson’s famous chip shot at the 17th made him take the lead and then go on to win the tournament. That’s one of the better tournaments they’ve had at Pebble Beach!”

Photo from Golf Digest.

Diving more into the Pebble Beach course itself, Mikes shares how the course plays out and which of the holes are his favourite:

“The Pebble Beach course is set up for a great finish, and that’s exactly why we’ve seen a lot of great finishes down the years. It is undeniably a fantastic location for a golf course and I would say there are 6-7 holes that are very good. Those in particular that I would rate are: 6, 7 and 8 – they are all iconic! My favourite hole has to be the 18th. It’s a Par 5, which is a tight driving hole and plays along the water.”

Pebble Beach is indeed an iconic and fantastic golfing destination, so we asked Mike for his expert advice for newbies heading to Pebble Beach for the first time…

“It’s not cheap, and I advise everyone to go out and splash the cash and just play! Yes, people can just walk around, but because it’s such a great place to play some golf, any avid golfer shouldn’t pass up the chance. I also recommend that you take a caddie as it’ll be worth all the money in China!”

Mike went on to tell us why Pebble Beach, as a whole, is a great place to visit, and where he would rank it on his list of all-time great golf courses…

“Out of the 20 years I’ve been playing golf around the world, I would definitely rank Pebble Beach in the Top 10. That’s taking into account the fact that the ranking systems that everyone uses online or from news source just aren’t great. They seem to be done by amateurs and/or people who haven’t even played on the courses themselves. It’s location – being in Sunny San Fran – makes it a premium location and is littered with golf clubs. It’s one of the best pieces of land in the world, and you can stay at any of the luxury hotels over there then have dinner overlooking the 18th green – a priceless experience!”

Mike is certainly no stranger to Pebble Beach but how many times has he been there with Teed Up Golf Tours?

“This year will be my 8th time to Pebble Beach and we’ll be playing there just after the US Open finishes. I’ll be going with another group, and I’m always excited and buzzed to go back to Pebble Beach. We use Pebble Beach for a lot of our trips and we’ll continue to use it for future tours.”

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