2019 U.S. Open field: Why you should root for these nine golfers at Pebble Beach

The 2019 U.S. Open puts the world's best golfers at one of the PGA Tour's most iconic stops competing for a national championship. Pebble Beach has been the site of many memorable finishes in the past and given the strength of the field and the intrigue of the many storylines around the third major of the year, fans seem guaranteed to get another epic edition of the championship. 

Those storylines combine with everything we know about these stars to give you the perfect cross-section for rootability. Below we've broken down the easiest golfers to cheer on as the U.S. Open action gets started later this week. Stick with us for full coverage of the 2019 U.S. Open this week as Kyle Porter will be at Pebble Beach and live daily on CBS Sports HQ.

2019 U.S. Open Rootability Index
Tiger Woods
The most popular golfer in the sport's history is back at a course where he lapped the field in 2000. It wasn't enough for Woods to be the only golfer under par after 72 holes at the notoriously tough U.S. Open stop. No, Woods shot a final-round 67 to finish a record-setting 15 strokes ahead of the runner-up tie of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ernie Els at 12-under. He's already back to his major winning ways after taking the green jacket at Augusta National and another major win would move him just two victories away from Jack Nicklaus' major record.
Brooks Koepka
If history is going to happen, you might as well be a part of it. It's more than a century since a golfer has won three straight U.S. Open titles. Koepka is not only in the running to do so, he's entering the week as one of the co-favorites in the eyes of the oddsmakers. Koepka didn't have a great finish at the RBC Canadian Open, but it fell in line with other pre-U.S. Open warm-up rounds that resulted in national championships so you don't see any Brooks fans sweating the T-50 finish.
Speaking of history, how about a Hall of Fame golfer completing the career grand slam? Mickelson won at Pebble Beach earlier in the year and noted that the course they'd play for the U.S. Open was going to be "completely different" once the USGA gets its hands on it. The way that Mickelson has embraced social media has only heightened his rootability, expanding both the age range and demographics of the average Phil fan.
Dustin Johnson
A disastrous final-round 82 at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach put Johnson, the 54-hole leader in that event, in the unceremonious category of notable blown leads in the championship's history. DJ's career since then has included handfuls of wins, the No. 1 world ranking and a major win at the 2016 U.S. Open. Rooting of DJ is rooting for overcoming those 2010 memories and adding a second victory to a profile that has loads of accolades in every category but major wins.
Rory McIlroy
No one in golf has been better from tee-to-green since the start of 2019 than McIlroy. He's been a top-10 machine and the stellar Saturday-Sunday showing of 64-61 at the Canadian Open gives him a ton of momentum heading into Pebble Beach. The world has been talking about Koepka but overlooking McIlroy, but a win here would certainly change the conversation about where he stands among the top players in the world right now.
Pebble Beach has some of the smallest greens on the PGA Tour and does not have the kind of length that allows the really long hitters to create significant advantage off the tee. That seems to shape up perfectly for Spieth, who is as well-suited as anyone else in the field to win a chipping-and-putting contest. The key for Spieth, as always, is going to be ball-striking on approach shots to set himself up to make a few birdies so he's not relying on that chipping-and-putting to save par.
Rickie Fowler
One of the best players without a major also happens to be one of the best putters in the field. A lights out putting performance could be the kind of advantage that can elevate Fowler to that elusive major win. Fowler fans looking for hope should turn their attention to another U.S. Open track with small, tough greens, and note that he did a great job of negotiating that challenge during his T2 finish at Pinehurst in 2014.
Patrick Cantlay
After a win at the Memorial, the Cantlay campaign went mainstream. He was one of the best golfers on the amateur circuit and won everything there is to win at the college level but injuries and other issues nearly knocked him out of the sport for about a three-year period. Cantlay is not as young as Spieth or JT were when they made their breakthrough, but he's starting to catch up to where they sit among the best golfers in the game.
You'll always find a good amount of Kuchar love at events like these, and the way he's played so far this season suggests he can be in the mix to win on Sunday. Kuchar, like Fowler, has come close but failed to win a major championship on several occasions, and given his form and the track -- tight fairways, tiny greens -- it's looking like this might be one of his best chances to get that major win.
CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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