Top players to face off at U.S. Open

Paratore to debut in Major

Redazione ANSA Rome

(ANSA) - Rome, June 12 - Top golf players are facing off at the US Open Championship, the third golf Major in 2019, which has reached its 119th edition.
    Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson are among players to compete at Pebble Beach on June 13-16.
    Renato Paratore will also be debuting at the championship while Koepka will be vying for a top spot.
    The American is defending the world leadership and aiming for his third consecutive victory in California to equal Scottish golfer Willie Anderson's record between 1903 and 1905.
    Eleven years after his last masterpiece at the US Open, Woods will be competing to attain four wins on the course of the Pebble Beach Golf Links (par 71) which in 2000 saw the American champion destroy every record at a Major.
    In the first victory of his career in the competition, Woods was able to win by a record-setting 15 strokes over Ernie Els of South Africa and Miguel Angel Jimenez - one of the greatest achievements in the history of golf.
    Now the Californian wants to try to score four victories in the competition, emulating the record set by Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. All eyes will also be on Francesco "Chicco" Molinari.
    The Italian, who is back in sixth place in the world ranking, is looking for a comeback after a disappointing Masters and his 48th place at the PGA Championship.
    The Piedmont native, as in Bethpage, will be playing the first two rounds with Koepka and beside them will be Norwegian golfer Viktor Hovland. Twenty-fifth in 2018, the 'king' of the Ryder Cup in Paris wants to make a comeback at the Grand Slam tournament that is most feared by leading players.
    The tournament doesn't award the famed "Green Jacket" and it does not have the historic value of the Open Championship but it represents perhaps the event that feels most important to champions, as well as boasting total prize money of 12.5 million dollars with the winner pocketing 2.25 million.
    Italy will not just be represented by Molinari but by Paratore as well.
    The Roman, who is debuting at a Major, won his ticket to the US at the Sectional Qualifier in Surrey, in the UK.
    He will now be able to compete at an event he has always dreamt of attending with his myths: Molinari and Woods who will be chasing his 82nd victory on the PGA Tour to equal the record-setting Sam Snead. Meanwhile Phil Mickelson will have a new occasion - the sixth and perhaps last - in the Grand Slam.
    "Lefty", as the player is known, has had a hard time at the US Open.
    The San Diego player boasts a record six second places (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013) in the competition that sees Koepka and Johnson as the top contenders for a title, according to bookmakers.
    And the two American players are also battling for the world ranking.
    The challenge is also open for the FedEx Cup with 25 out of the top 30 players in the ranking on the green, including leader Matt Kuchar.
    After his triumph at the RBC Canadian Open, Rory McIlroy is among the most highly anticipated protagonists, together with Justin Rose and Justin Thomas.
    South African player Els, thanks to a special exemption, will be playing his 27th consecutive US Open.
    Overall, 156 players will be competing, including 14 amateurs in a tournament played and conquered for the first time on October 4, 1895, by the then-21-year-old British golfer Horace Williams.
    The tournament has been won by champions as well as an amateur, Francis Ouimet, who in 1913 was able perhaps to score the greatest achievement in the tournament, winning over Ted Ray and Harry Vardon. The story of his triumph inspired the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005) based on the early life of the golf champion.
    The record of the tournament's youngest winner still goes to American player John McDermott who won in 1911 when he was 19.
    Hale Irwin in 1990 won at 45, becoming the oldest golfer to triumph at the US Open.
    Now everything is ready in Pebble Beach as top players are gearing up for a tournament that is hard to predict to become part of the legend of golf.