The illustrious Pebble Beach has once again put on a battle for the ages in the US Open in a weekend full of captivating golf that viewers haven’t been able to take their eyes off. However, Sunday’s action will see the winner of the second major of the year crowned, and it looks to be a fight to the end between the leaders in the field.
Gary Woodland is the man to beat at the moment and is nine under par after a bogey-free round in the second. Prior to this weekend, only Tiger Woods had recorded that particular achievement. But that was broken by first Woodland, and then the second placed Justin Rose. The weather has been a contributing factor thus far, but there is nothing that the USGA can do about that. The breeze is the reason why 26 players are entering the weekend under-par. Since the turn of the century, only Wood in that captivating performance has beaten par; and that was widely considered the greatest performance in the history of the sport. While, the top rated players have been exceptional in their work over the weekend, neither can claim that kind of accolade.
Woodland has gotten to where he is by his putting; with the 50-foot birdie on the ninth. However, there is no denying that the course is playing softer and longer than it has done previously. Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Chez Reavie all seem to be out of contention.
Woodland may be leading by two, but neither he or Rose is leading the BetXChange market for the outright winner of the US Open at present. Instead, that honour lands at the feet of Rory McIlroy who is lurking four away from the lead. He has recovered well from a disaster on the 14th to get right back in contention immediately. It is worth noting, however, that the Irishman is no specialist at the US Open; despite his win in the major in 2011. But, it is undeniable that the return of his form just seven days ago and the soft conditions playing into his hand could be a deciding factor at this year’s tournament.
Just one further shot back is Brooks Koepka, so he would feel that he is right among the contenders for the final couple of days of action. However, in a leaderboard full of top quality talent including Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Henrik Stenton; it isn’t a sure thing that he will be in the same contention. It will need to be one of the best performances of the Koepka’s career for him to be able to pull off this achievement.
Anybody looking at the leaderboard at this stage must seriously fancy McIlroy to finish the strongest of all of the players in contention. Woodland has limited experience at this stage of a major, and that could play into the hands of both Rose and McIlroy. But, the preference is for a fifth major win for the Northern Irish star.