U.S. Open 2019: Five holes where tournament will be won or lost

Pebble Beach has some of the most beautiful views in golf, with it being nestled against the coastline and having open views of the Pacific Ocean.

But the scenic views come at a cost.

This course, which will host the U.S. Open this week, has some extremely challenging holes, with the weather capable of changing the dynamic of them in an instant. 

“Pebble Beach is a course that you play once and you remember each hole forever,” Rafa Cabrera-Bello said last year. “Every single hole is different from the previous one.”

There are five holes that will most test the golfers. It starts on the front nine with the second hole, which demands distance and accuracy. Then the stretch of eight, nine and 10 can be just as challenging as Augusta National’s Amen Corner, but that is far from the only test.

Hole two

This hole rotates between a par four and a par five, but has served as a long, tough par four at the past two U.S. Opens. That again will be the case this time around, and golfers will have to navigate a narrow fairway that is, at the most, 30 yards wide.

They will want to drive it as far as possible, as it is the second-longest par four on the course at 516 yards. But it is more than just the distance that will make or break golfers on this hole, as there are bunkers that line the fairway and a moat-like sand-trap guarding the green.

Holes eight to 10

These three holes deserve a stand-alone nickname, and that is the reason they are grouped together.

The late famed golf writer Dan Jenkins dubbed this stretch “Abalone Corner”. 

At first, it is one of if not the most beautiful views in golf.

The par-four eighth starts just past Stillwater Cove, a public beach inside the private community of Pebble and sits at the top of a 100-foot cliff. It is not the slight dog leg that has proved the most challenging, but rather the second shot, as Tiger Woods explained.

Woods, the three-time U.S. Open winner who won by 15 shots at this major in 2000 at Pebble Beach, said it is the toughest second shot in golf.

“You don’t know whether to say ‘get up’ or ‘get down,'” he said in 2000. “It’s just up there forever. If you can walk away from there with four every day, boy, you’re going to pick up a couple shots on the field.”

If golfers can make it unscathed through eight, they next face nine, which has one of the smallest greens on a course that is dotted with tiny putting surfaces. But that is after a fairway that slopes down toward the water.

The awkward side-hill lie on the 10th hole can also prove the undoing of many. It is the last stretch along the bay and has the widest fairway on the course, but players will have to commit to their shots and try to avoid the bunkers on the left.

Hole 14

This cruel par five is a three-shot hole for most players. But do not expect many drivers, as hitting the ball too far on this hole will send golfers into the USGA’s punitive rough.

It is the third shot that often proves the toughest.

The entire hole is uphill, which increases the effective distance by almost 30 yards, from 573 to what feels like 600 yards, and because of this elevation, the green tilts up. It will leave golfers with a blind shot to the green between two yawning bunkers.

If players make it through to Sunday and then, if leading, through those five holes relatively unscathed, then that leaves four holes to navigate as the tension of trying to win a major increases.

Translation: You cannot win the U.S. Open on these five gruelling holes, but you sure can lose it.