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Tue 17 Aug 2010 12:00 AM

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The beauty is a beast

Henrik tells us why he is glad the next US Open will not return to Pebble Beach before 2019.

The beauty is a beast
Henrik Stenson tees off on the fifth hole at Pebble Beach.

Henrik tells us why he is glad the next US Open will not return to Pebble Beach before 2019.

Pebble Beach Golf Links might be the most beautiful place in the world, but I am glad we will be returning there for the next US Open only in 2019.

It was a relentless battle against a golf course that was tricked up, made some good shots look bad, severely penalised the slightest of errors and did not have the best of greens.

Of course, you do expect the Majors to be tough tests of golf, especially the US Open which has historically been the toughest of them all. I did go into the tournament anticipating course set-up like it turned out to be. I did expect the greens to get rock hard by Sunday, and I did expect narrow fairways.

It was a pleasant surprise to actually find out that the rough was not exactly US Open-deep, even though it was slightly unpredictable. The fairways and greens were extremely firm and after playing the practice round on Wednesday, I honestly thought a black number is going to win the championship this year. The ball was running miles on the fairways and bouncing off the greens.

And then, when we started our first round, we found the course had been watered and the greens were extremely receptive. It was a completely different course from the practice days and it felt as if the USGA was trying to play mind games with us professionals. In fact, I half-jokingly asked one of the officials if Mike Davis, the USGA’s man-in-charge of setting up such brutal courses, played golf. He wasn’t sure, and neither am I.

Considering the above, I thought it was a fantastic performance from GMac. It is the first European win in almost 40 years at the US Open, and coming as it does in a Ryder Cup year, it is a great boost for us as we try and reclaim the trophy. But Ryder Cup is several months away and let us just bask in Graeme’s glory for the time being.

I played a practice round with him at Pebble Beach before the Open, and we were together at the driving range almost every day at Lake Nona the week before. I could sense that the win at Celtic Manor had given him an amazing confidence boost. His mindset was very positive, and he was well prepared for the tournament.

Coming from Northern Ireland, Graeme is used to playing on the links courses, and Pebble Beach had complete links feeling throughout the week with its firm fairways and greens, and the blowing wind. But what won the tournament for him was his character of hanging tough – he just not let go of the opportunity.

I am off to Dubai and then Europe for the next few weeks, but I am not playing any tournament before the Open Championship barring the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland a couple of weeks before St Andrews. I am also going to be busy with my own tournament – The Princess, which is part of the European Challenge Tour.

As I have written before, I don’t think the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond is the best preparation for the Open because it is a completely different kind of golf course than the one that we will face at an Open Championship. So, I am hoping to be very fresh and put in a hard week’s practice before playing at St Andrews.

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