I landed in California on Monday and the plan is to play nine holes as usual in practice each day until Thursday’s tee off. I’m staying in Monterey so it’s not too far from the course. I’ll practice, chill out, keep it relaxed and get down to business on Thursday. Coming off finishing T2 in Canada with a chance to win, can be a little bit draining. So, I’ll get out there, get my mind right and go and give it a lash and see what happens.
I’m pretty happy with the tee time I got (16:13 GMT) and I’m looking forward to playing with Gary Woodland and Tyrell Hatton. They’re two very good players. It’s always nice to play with good players because they drag you on with them. If you’re playing with someone that’s not playing great – it’s almost like you get dragged down a little bit.
I know them fairly well and I know their caddies, so it’ll be all very familiar which is good. Gary’s a lovely fella. Tyrrell gets bad press but he’s a nice fella – he’s just quite hard on himself on the golf course. When the cameras goes off and he calms down, he’s a good laugh.
Playing partners can make a big difference. I look at certain draws and think, maybe not! I wouldn’t like to be out in the marquee groups early on this week because there can be a bit of a circus around them. Being out with Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, you’d certainly find yourself in the limelight a lot more and a lot earlier than ideal.
I want to go in a bit lower profile, under the radar, and see where it leaves me for the weekend.
I don’t mind being in a marquee group then!
There’s been a nice few weeks in a row now where I’ve played well. But I don’t take anything for granted. You never know what’s around the corner. So, I wouldn’t be building myself up in my own head. If anything, I’d be trying to lower my expectations. There’s a lot more players here carrying more expectation than me.
Everyone asks me about Oakmont in 2016 and whether it still plays on my mind – but the answer is no, absolutely not! Just because I had a good chance of winning a US Open back then when I led on the final day before Dustin Johnson caught me, isn’t an issue. If anything, it gives me more confidence going forward as I know I can call on it if I get myself in that position again.
Even my three Top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour in the last couple of months has boosted my confidence.
I deserve to be here. I can do this.
I don’t think I’d be playing professionally if I didn’t think I could compete against some of these lads like Rory, Brooks, DJ and Tiger. They’re in a different league when they bring their ‘A’ game and they’re very hard to beat – but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like I can’t beat them.
The one thing I’m very happy about this season is being in contention a few times and feeling very comfortable about it. That’s the take-out learning so far for me. I spent a lot of last week near the top of the leaderboard and before that at Harbour Town – and it felt good.
The more time you spend there, the more familiar you get with it, the easier it becomes when it happens again.
Hang in there
For me, the US Open is an 80 per cent mental test. I know Pebble Beach well and while it’s going to be a lot different than the Pro-Am tournament in February and set up way harder – it’s all about hanging in there. It’s literally all about hanging in. No matter what happens, you just get onto the next hole and keep battling away.
The last time the US Open was at Pebble Beach, the cut was 10 over or something mad like that. That shows you how hard it could play this week. So, it’ll be interesting. It’s an historic US Open venue and they are the ones I love. I haven’t been a big fan of the Erin Hills or the way they set up Shinnecock last year. I think this type of traditional US Open set up will be great to play.
Suit you, sir
If you were to ask me what type of golfer it suits most – I wouldn’t know what to tell you.
Looking at previous winners, Tiger, Dustin, G Mac – they’re all different types of players. It doesn’t suit any style, whether they’re a tee-box boomer, have a great short game or good putters – any type of golfer can win around here. Rory goes in as one of the likely winners as he usually does. He’s normally among the favourites to win most weeks he plays and looked to have everything in the locker when blitzing the field in Canada.
Pebble Beach is a tricky one, though. You don’t need to hit your driver that much, which takes it out of Rory’s hands a little bit. That could be a factor. Brooks Koepka just seems to show up on the big weeks, doesn’t he? Especially the last couple of years. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t in with a leading chance this week again. He played in Canada but definitely had one eye on this week as opposed to grinding out a top 15-finish when his chance had gone.
That’s the way those guys in the Top 10 play. Their focus is relentless for the big events and that’s why he’s so formidable in Majors.