PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. Open (all times local):
Ernie Els is at the end of a U.S. Open career that began at Baltusrol in 1993, a month before Jordan Spieth was even born.
Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 at Oakmont and in 1997 at Congressional, and when his 10-year exemption ended, he played well enough to earn his spot in the field through a money list or world ranking until he won the 2012 British Open, earning a five-year exemption.
He is playing on a special exemption for the second straight year. It’s rare for players to get more than one special exemption.
Els has a good record at Pebble Beach, finishing runner-up in 2000 to Tiger Woods and finishing third in 2010. The runner-up finish is a little misleading because he finished 15 shots behind.
Els turns 50 in October. He realizes his time contending at the U.S. Open is probably over. He says, “I just want to have a great week in my own way.”
Brooks Koepka is going for a third straight U.S. Open title aware that the odds are stacked against him.
The only player to go back-to-back-to-back in golf’s toughest test was Willie Anderson in 1905.
Koepka doesn’t know much about Anderson. He pointed to more recent history when talking about his quest at Pebble Beach. It has been eight years since anyone has won the same tournament three straight times, much less a U.S. Open. That was Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic.
Koepka also considered the field of players trying to stop him. One key figure is Dustin Johnson, who has won twice at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and has finished no worse than third in three of the last four U.S. Opens.