U.S. Open round 1 by the numbers: Unprecedented Pebble Beach scoring


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — So much for the old school U.S. Open.

The 2019 first round played two strokes easier than any opener in Pebble Beach’s six national championships and finished second to only the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol (72.28) for all time lowest opening-day scoring average.

“Perhaps they got a little scared by that weather on Tuesday, and then the marine layer moved in a little bit,” said 2010 Graeme McDowell after a 69 in morning wave play. “So I kind of feel like moisture levels are staying in the greens and the ground longer than they maybe expected.”

The first round’s 72.679 scoring average nearly matched February’s AT&T Pro-Am’s four-day average of 72.120 for rounds played at Pebble Beach. This, even as fairways have been narrowed about 30 percent and rough is several inches higher.

U.S. OPEN: Scores | Round 2 tee times and TV info

A record 17 eagles were made, the most for any round since detailed records have been kept.

Three of those eagles were made at the par-5 18th. In the previous six U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach, there have only been three eagles at the finishing hole.

The 39 sub-par first rounds fell shy of only Erin Hills’ 44 in 2017 and tied Medinah’s 39 in 1990. With 27 rounds in the 60s, it’s the most in a U.S. Open first round ever and ranks third all time for a round.

In the five previous U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach, there have been only seven rounds of 66 or lower. In Thursday’s first round five were posted.

The round also stood out against scoring averages of previous first rounds in Pebble Beach U.S. Open’s:

1972: 78.05

1982: 77.25

1992: 74.51

2000: 74.99

2010: 75.28

2019: 72.67

What happened?

  • An absence of sun for the second day in a row.
  • The wind never amounted to more than zephyr status.
  • A scoring-friendly light marine layer eliminated any shadows or glare.

Under fire for taking courses too close to the edge of sanity, the USGA rolled out a conservative golf course setup and various maintenance practices that ensured little controversy, but also left the round looking more like the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am than the U.S. Open.

“Definitely a lot more receptive than it was last time we were here,” said Dustin Johnson (71).

Greens were estimated to be at 12.5 on the Stimpmeter after mowing. Yet players seemed surprised by the slow speed and consistently left putts short Mix that with course conditioning labeled by many players as “best ever” for Pebble Beach, and the course was bound to yield to the field.

The punishing U.S. Open style of yesteryear, this was not.

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