2019 U.S. Open Preview

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2019 U.S. Open Preview

Kevin Kisner
Photo: YouTube screen capture

Six former Georgia Bulldogs men’s golfers are set to compete in the 119th United States Open Championship. The third major championship of 2019 will take place at historic Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California.

Tournament Information

Although Pebble Beach is in the U.S. Open rotation, it is also the host course for the AT&T Pro-Am which is an annual PGA Tour event held in February.

This week, Pebble Beach will play as a par 71 at 7,075 yards. The field of 156 will be cut to the top 60 players (including ties) after 36 holes.

The weather is forecasted to be ideal this week on the Monterey Peninsula. Thursday to Sunday’s temperatures should remain steady throughout competition play. Projected highs between 60 and 62 degrees, with the low only dropping to 53 degrees. Also, the winds should not play a huge factor as they are supposed to remain under 15 mph for the week.

Lookback to 2010

The last time the U.S. Open took place at Pebble Beach was in 2010, when Russell Henley and Hudson Swafford competed while they were still student-athletes at UGA. That week, Henley would go on to tie for low amateur with a 16th place finish.

Dawgs in the Field

Harris English (2007-11) – 11:46 a.m. off No. 1/5:31 p.m. off No. 10

The three-time All American at UGA will be playing in his fourth U.S. Open this week. Harris English was one of the last men in the field after earning the first alternate spot from the Canada sectional qualifier.

English’s best finish in the U.S. Open came in 2016 at Oakmont Country Club where he finished in a tie for 37th. He has not competed in the AT&T Pro-Am since 2013.

Kevin Kisner (2002-06) – 11:02 a.m. off No. 10/4:47 p.m. off No. 1

Although he has historically performed better on bermuda greens, Kevin Kisner had previous success on poa annua greens. He won the 2013 Pebble Beach Invitational and recorded a top 10 finish at the 2016 AT&T Pro-Am.

Kisner, the No. 27th player in the official world golf rankings, claimed his third PGA Tour victory earlier this season at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship.

Coming off a runner-up finish at The Open Championship last summer, Kisner is looking for his first victory in a major championship. With thick rough this week and a short golf course, driving the ball in the fairway will be crucial. The conditions this week set up well for Kisner as he ranks No. 21 on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy.

If he gets the putter rolling, Kisner could find himself in contention on Sunday.

Keith Mitchell (2010-14) – 4:36 p.m. off No. 1/10:51 a.m. off No. 10

It has been a breakout sophomore year on the PGA Tour for Keith Mitchell. He claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the Honda Classic in March where he sunk a 15-footer on the 72nd hole to defeat Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler by one stroke.

This will be Mitchell’s first U.S. Open appearance. His career-best finish at Pebble Beach came in the 2018 AT&T Pro-Am where he finished in a tie for 47th.

Keith Mitchell
NCAA Championships — Day 1
Riviera Country Club
Pacific Palisades, Calif.
(Photo by Steven Colquitt)

Sepp Straka (2012-16) – 9:45 a.m. off No. 10/3:30 p.m. off No. 1

PGA Tour rookie Sepp Straka will play in his first major championship this week. In his senior season with the Bulldogs, Straka was a key contributor in UGA’s 2016 SEC Championship crown.

He earned his way into the field after earning co-medalist honors at the Canada sectional qualifier.

Brendon Todd (2003-07) – 10:29 a.m. off No. 10/4:14 p.m. off No. 1

2005 National Champion, Brendon Todd will be playing in his third U.S. Open this week. In 2014, Todd played in the final group on Saturday of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst with Martin Kaymer. He went on to finish in a tie for 17th that week.

The four-time All-American claimed co-medalist honors in the Dallas, Texas sectional qualifier to punch his ticket to Pebble Beach.

Todd has recorded two top 10 finishes in the AT&T Pro-Am (2012, 2015). One of the reasons why he could be playing four rounds this week is because he is one of the most accurate golfers on the PGA Tour. Since he does not have full status on tour this season, Todd is not ranked in statistical categories. However, he has a driving accuracy percentage of 72.9 percent which would place him in fourth place out of 210 golfers if he was ranked.

If Todd continues this trend, he will have a good chance to be playing four competitive rounds in California.

Bubba Watson (1998-2001) – 10:40 a.m. off No. 1/4:25 p.m. off No. 10

The most accomplished Bulldog on the PGA Tour with 12 wins, Bubba Watson, will play in his 13th U.S. Open this week. The two-time Masters Champion (2012, 2014) was a member of the 2000 SEC title team.

Watson’s only top five finish in the U.S. Open came in 2007, where he came up four shots short of winner Angel Cabrera. Watson did not compete in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. His best finish at this course came in 2018 at the AT&T Pro-Am where placed in a tie for 35th.

Who will be low Dawg?

Coming into the 119th U.S. Open, no Georgia Bulldog is carrying a ton of momentum. Pebble Beach should be a challenge, but a fair test of golf. With driving accuracy and a good short game being essential, I would expect Kisner and Todd to be around for the weekend. However, any of the six Bulldogs in the field are capable of playing well this week.

Although Kisner is probably the favorite to be low Dawg, I like English to win this Dawg distinction. Fresh off a top 20 finish and four rounds in the 60s at the Canadian Open, English comes to Pebble Beach in decent form. Being one of the last players in the field, English is playing with house money. He will ride this mentality to his best ever U.S. Open finish.

Note: All tee times are Eastern Time Zone, () = Years at UGA, Thursday/Friday tee times

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