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PGA Tour: Real Contenders Absent from Pebble Beach This Week

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 16: A general view of the seventh hole on Pebble Beach Golf Links after cancellation of the final round of the the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on February 16, 2009 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

While most of the PGA Tour will be spending this week out on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula at the site of the 2010 US Open, many of the real contenders are sitting 7,000 miles away.

It has long been said that Tiger Woods owns Pebble Beach.

This view is based primary on his record setting victory at the 2000 US Open.

However, Woods has only won twice at Pebble Beach—the 2000 Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the 2000 US Open.

Two wins during the best year of his, and possible anyone else’s, career hardly constitutes “owning” a golf course.

Woods could have been playing on the moon in 2000 and he would have had no problem demolishing the field by 15 strokes.

Needless to say, we don’t know which Tiger Woods will show up at Pebble Beach in June, or whether he will show up at all.

So Tiger aside, which players are likely to contend for the 2010 US Open title? 

Despite Pebble Beach’s parkland appearance, the natural elements present more of a links feel.

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There’s the wind, the rain, the cold, the fog and the tall, thick fescue.

It’s more or less a parkland version of St. Andrews.

What type of player typically plays well in the wind, rain and cold?

Well, you’ll have to look across the ocean for the answer to that question.

It’s been 30 years since a European last won the US Open (Tony Jacklin in 1970), but that could very well change this June.

Eight out of the top-15 players in the world originally hale from Europe.

Furthermore, four out of the top-10 players in the world grew up playing on the links courses of England and Ireland.

How much experience do the likes of Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, and Jim Furyk have playing in the wind and rain?

Attending the British Open each July doesn’t exactly make one an expert in playing in tough conditions.

The outcome of many major championships has been determined by the weather; that’s nothing new…just look at last year’s US Open.

What could be different about the 2010 US Open, however, is that the weather could very well determine which continent the champion will come from.

Perfect conditions will favor American players who are very familiar with Pebble Beach.

If the wind and rain descend upon Pebble Beach for most of the 2010 US Open – which is quite possible—look across the pond for your champion.

The likes of Harrington, Westwood, McIlroy, Poulter, Casey, Fisher, Stenson, etc. will have a marked advantage at the Open if the weather were to turn south.

In 2000, it was cold, windy and play was suspended twice due to fog.

The top players on the final leaderboard in 2000, were Woods, Ernie Els (played primarily in Europe at the time), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain), John Huston (USA), Lee Westwood (England), Padraig Harrington (Ireland), and Nick Faldo (England) tied for seventh.

While most of the PGA Tour may be at Pebble Beach this week for the AT&T Pro-Am, many of the top contenders for the 2010 US Open title will not hit the Monterey Peninsula until June.

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