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U.S. Open 2019 preview: Story lines, golfers to watch at Pebble Beach

Brooks Koepka hits a tee shot during a

Brooks Koepka hits a tee shot during a practice round prior to the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Wednesday in Pebble Beach, Calif. Credit: Getty Images/Warren Little

Top Story Lines

- Brooks Koepka aims to become the first golfer in 114 years to win a third consecutive U.S. Open (and to win his second major title in two months)

- Phil Mickelson has what might be his last chance to complete the career Grand Slam, playing a course on which he has won five times (including the AT&T this year)

- Tiger Woods looks to regain his form from Augusta and overcome a missed cut at Bethpage in the PGA

- The U.S. Golf Association tries to finally have a blameless, controversy-free Open

- Rory McIlroy attempts to break a five-year major drought, and win his second national Open in two weeks (fresh off a victory in Canada)

Premier Golfers Still Trying to Win that Second Major

- Dustin Johnson

- Justin Thomas

- Jason Day

- Justin Rose

- Adam Scott

Also Keep an Eye On

- Patrick Cantlay: Led the Masters late on Sunday afternoon, won the Memorial

- Jordan Spieth: No matter what shape his game is in, he contends at majors

- Tommy Fleetwood: Most recent U.S. Open moment was a Sunday 63 at Shinnecock

- Matt Kuchar: No major titles, but he’s No. 1 on the FedEx Cup points list

- Rickie Fowler: Will this finally be the week?

Comments about Tiger Woods’ former caddie Steve Williams now working for Jason Day

- “When it comes down to the crunch, he’ll be able to calm me down”—Day, giving one reason why he hired Williams

- “He thinks that I’m an underachiever”—Day, on why Williams took the job

- “Obviously, we won a bunch of tournaments together. He's got a wealth of knowledge. And I think Jason is trying to tap into that and trying to turn his year around,”—Woods, on the new partnership

Ways Pebble Beach Golf Links is Unique

- It is 100 years old, but was 53 when it hosted its first U.S. Open

- The Lone Cypress is perhaps golf’s most identifiable tree and is enshrined on the club’s logo (but it's not on the property)

- Dramatic scenery composed of trees, cliffs and beach — on the latter, there are sea lions and people walking their dogs

- Bing Crosby, who had a home on the 14th hole, made the place famous by hosting a pro-am “clambake” that still is a fixture on the PGA Tour

- Conditions can go from warm and sunny to cool and foggy in a heartbeat (which happened Wednesday)

Trending Downward

- Jimmy Walker: No wins since 2016 PGA, nothing better than a tie for 19th in 17 starts this season.

- Patrick Reed: At his wife’s suggestion, hired David Leadbetter to work on his ailing swing.

- Branden Grace: Contender down the stretch in 2015 U.S. Open hasn’t finished in top 30 since March.

- Si Woo Kim: 2017 Players champion has missed four of five cuts since the Masters

On the Amateur Side

- Brandon Wu, a Stanford graduate, is from Scarsdale, N.Y.

- Matt Parziale, a firefighter from Brockton, Mass., is back after having made the cut at Shinnecock

- Stewart Hagestad was once turned down for an investment firm job by Jimmy Dunne, member at many courses including Shinnecock and Augusta National. Hagestad, Dunne’s fellow member at Deepdale in Manhasset, said it was a blessing because it allowed him more time to work on his game.

Scenes from U.S. Open Champions Dinner Tuesday (courtesy of Rory McIlroy)

- Tom Watson reminisced about playing in his final Open in 2010, alongside McIlroy

- Jack Nicklaus reminisced about playing with Gene Sarazen

- Gary Player recalled that his winning check was in the $5,000 range

- Memorabilia on hand included Ben Hogan’s 1-iron, the ball with which Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam, the visor Arnold Palmer threw into the air at Cherry Hills

- Lee Trevino and Jerry Pate told of beating Nick Faldo and Sam Torrance in the Ryder Cup

- Wives/significant others were invited (unlike the Masters champions dinner)

- Everyone at the “young” table — the McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth couples — stayed 90 minutes later than anybody else. “We shut the place down, just chatting,” McIlroy said, “and it was really, really cool.”

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