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Leading players for the 2000 US Open
Groupings & tee times for first two rounds
Pebble Beach - Hole by Hole
A golfing goodbye to Payne Stewart
Steve Elkington withdraws from US Open
Montgomerie hopes once more for first Major
History converges on 100th US Open
Tiger Woods set to rewrite Pebble Beach legend
How the US Open has foiled Europe's best
Woods upbeat about claiming US Open title
US Open to remember Payne Stewart
US Open reaches it's centenary
Patience is the key for Garcia
Clarke & Campbell not scared by Pebble Beach
Paul Lawrie withdraws from US Open
British golfers head overseas US Open challenge
USGA executive slates "Special Exemptions"
Greg Norman fires US Open warning

US Open reaches it's centenary

Although the United States Open Golf Championship made its debut in 1895 at Newport, Rhode Island, the United States Golf Association is celebrating the Centennial U.S. Open this week at Pebble Beach, site of three prior U.S. Open Championships.

The USGA decided to 'jump' its rotation of Pebble by two years so that the famed course could host this landmark achievement, as well as kick off the new millennium. Last year, the final U.S. Amateur championship of the 20th Century was decided at Pebble Beach, thus making Amateur champion David Gossett the first person to appear in a consecutive USGA Amateur and Open on the same course.

In their wisdom, the USGA couldn't have picked a better course to bookend its most prized championships.

All told, the 2000 U.S. Open will be the 10th USGA Championship to be decided at Pebble Beach, which first opened to the public in 1918. Though other courses have hosted more USGA Championships, perhaps none has been witness to as many brilliant Open moments as Pebble Beach. With luck, the first U.S. Open of the 21st Century will follow suit with the preceding three.

USGA should have known that there was something magical about Pebble Beach when it hosted its first U.S. Open on the Monterrey Peninsula in 1972. After losing to Lee Trevino in an 18 hole playoff the year before, Jack Nicklaus captured his third of four Open titles by vanquishing Palmer, Trevino and Bruce Crampton with one of the highest winning scores in Open history.

The Bear sealed his victory with perhaps the most memorable 1-iron in history on the 71st hole, hitting the stick on the dastardly par-3 that overhangs the Pacific Ocean for a tap-in birdie. Over the years, Jack Nicklaus has maintained that it was the greatest long shot of his career - not a bad way to christen the inaugural U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

In Hollywood, sequels are typically less dramatic than the original, but at Pebble the opposite was true. Ten years after Jack's triumph, the Bear again held center stage at Pebble as he searched out a record fifth U.S. Open title - something which had eluded both Hogan and Jones.

After posting 4-under par through 72 holes, it looked like Nicklaus would at least get a chance to face Tom Watson in a Monday playoff as Watson sputtered with the lead - as he had done on several prior occasions as well - over the final nine holes. But in the ultimate touch of irony, the same 17th hole which had once catapulted Jack to victory dashed it in '82, as Watson chipped in from no man's land - unquestionably the most memorable moment in Open history - en route to a two shot victory over the Bear. It would be Watson's only Open championship, and the defining moment of his illustrious career.

1992 saw the third installment of the Open at Pebble Beach, and although it did not produce the singular dramatics of the Nicklaus 1-iron or Watson chip-in, it does measure up as one of the most competitive and inspiring Opens in recent memory, as Tom Kite ended his lifelong quest at age 42 for a Major championship. Kite's final round two-under 70 - on a brutal day in which almost half the field failed to break 80 - remains one of the gutsiest performances Open history, and is certainly the crowning achievement of his career.

It goes without saying that this year's Open at Pebble Beach will be a memorable one. Any championship held where writer Robert Louis Stevenson once described as 'the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world' is virtually assured of greatness.

Unfortunately, this year's championship will be played with a tinge of sadness and heavy hearts, as Payne Stewart will not defend his title. Twice this year, Pebble Beach has been the resting place of Payne's memory, and only God could have picked a more timeless and beautiful setting.

It is customary for the USGA to pair the defending U.S. Open, British Open, and U.S. Amateur champions together during the first two days of play at the U.S. Open; it is there way of linking together the game's oldest championships in its greatest setting. In Payne Stewart's absence this year, the USGA asked Jack Nicklaus, in what will likely be his last Open Championship, to play with David Gossett and Paul Lawrie. The Centennial U.S. Open is already a memorable one.

 

 


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