Woods, Koepka ready for classic US Open test

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Brooks Koepka plays a shot from a bunker on the fifth hole during a practice round prior to the 2019 UUS Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 12, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Tiger Woods plays the tenth hole during a practice round of the 2019 US Open golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links. (Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)
Updated 13 June 2019

Woods, Koepka ready for classic US Open test

  • Koepka has a chance to do what only one golfer has done before him — win a third straight US Open title
  • Jack Nicklaus won the first US Open staged at Pebble Beach in 1972

PEBBLE BEACH, United States: The 119th US Open at Pebble Beach has the makings of a classic as Tiger Woods returns to the scene of a signature triumph to take on a new generation of stars led by two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka.
Koepka, 29, has a chance to do what only one golfer has done before him — win a third straight US Open title.
It’s been more than 100 years since Willie Anderson accomplished the feat, and Koepka says there’s no better place to chase history than Pebble Beach, where five prior editions have produced enduring major championship memories.
“It’s just such a special place,” Koepka said of the scenic course hugging the Pacific coast. “Just the history behind it. You look at the guys that have won here at Pebble, some of the greatest players that have ever played the game.”
Jack Nicklaus won the first US Open staged at Pebble Beach in 1972. Ten years later it was Tom Watson and in 1992 Tom Kite.
Woods triumphed in 2000 by a crushing 15 strokes — still a major championship record — and Graeme McDowell ended Europe’s 40-year US Open drought when he was the last man standing with a classic US Open total of even par 284 in 2010.
Koepka knows history is against his bid for a treble.
“I know the odds are stacked up probably even more against me now to go three in a row than to back it up,” Koepka said, noting that “It’s hard to win the same event three times in a row.”
The last player to win the same major three years in a row was Peter Thomson at the British Open from 1954-56.
The last player to win a PGA Tour event three straight years was Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic in 2009, ‘10 and ‘11.
Woods won the same tournament at least three straight years six times in five tournaments, so it’s perhaps no wonder he returns to Pebble 19 years after his 2000 triumph in the title mix.
Having cemented his return from the injury wilderness with his 15th major title at the Masters, Woods says he’s “trending in the right direction.”
The same can be said of three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, who struggled to 11 straight finishes outside the top 10 to start the season but has posted three straight top 10s coming into the third major of the season.
Dustin Johnson, who pushed Koepka late before settling for second behind the American at the PGA Championship last month, also features among the contenders, and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy arrives off an imperious seven-stroke victory at the Canadian Open.
Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who turns 49 on Sunday, reckons Pebble Beach offers one of his last legitimate chances to finally capture the US Open — the only major to elude him, while American Rickie Fowler again seeks to shed his current “best player never to win a major” label.
Koepka reckons the real threat to a historic treble boils down to “about a handful of guys.”
“That’s just how I view it, how I view going into every tournament, every major,” he said.
Of course Pebble Beach, playing at par -71 and 7,075 yards, will have something to say.
“There’s nothing like playing a US Open set up at Pebble Beach,” Woods said. “The golf course is not overly long. It’s not big in that regard, but man, it’s tricky.
“The greens are all slanted, very small targets,” he said, noting that staying below the hole would be crucial on the greens with a tendency toward bumpiness.
As the course dries out, McDowell said he expected to see something different from the benign face Pebble presented during early practice rounds.
“You just know that’s not going to be the way it’s going to be come Friday, come Saturday this week,” McDowell said. “And it looks like they have the golf course right where they want it right now — which is exciting.


SFA launches Saudi Arabia’s first walk-run event in the summer

Photo/Supplied
Updated 13 July 2020

SFA launches Saudi Arabia’s first walk-run event in the summer

  • Staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, the Step Together walk-run series aims to contribute to Vision 2030 by ensuring that physical activity levels are maintained and grow during the summer months

RIYADH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) has announced its first outdoor event of the summer season, a series of competitive walk-runs called Step Together.
The first Step Together virtual walk-run is open to individual and teams. Participants can register from July 17 until the closing date of July 26.
Adults taking part can choose to complete either a 42 kilometer full marathon or a 21 kilometer half marathon over a period of 10 days, commencing on July 17. Children under the age of 15 taking part in the challenge will complete a shorter 10 kilometer race over the same period.
The event is the first organized by the SFA since lockdown restrictions were eased. It is designed to appeal to all ages, abilities and demographics by offering both walk and run options. Participants who meet the distance goals will be awarded with finishing medals and electronic certificates celebrating their achievement.
Participants will be able to use their own preferred digital fitness tracker. They will upload data and images every day to the race platform to register progress and compare their results with other participants on the race leaderboard.
Community sports groups (CSGs) are also encouraged to join Step Together, with the event featuring an exclusive leaderboard for groups. Members of CSGs can complete simultaneously in both individual and group categories.
Registered users will each receive email confirmations with a unique link and instructions for the Race Result platform.
The dedicated link allows each participant to enter distance and elapsed time each day, validated by a screenshot from any digital fitness tracker.
A results tab on the platform allows users to enjoy friendly competition and compare results with other participants.
There are also leaderboards for various categories on the same page, including age, gender and distance.
Staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, the Step Together walk-run series aims to contribute to Vision 2030 by ensuring that physical activity levels are maintained and grow during the summer months.
The aims to promote a renewed excitement and energy for outdoor fitness.
A recent SFA report said there was a 60 percent increase in walking in Saudi Arabia since March, while running became 30 percent more popular.
The report added that the increases mainly came from people who were previously less active.
The SFA aims to further encourage enjoyment of physical fitness within this demographic.

Step Together participants can register on the Race Result platform at sfa.sa/STen.