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US Open venue Pebble Beach celebrates 100th anniversary

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"The Big Three" Rolex Testimonees, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

PEBBLE Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, California, the venue for the third of four golf Majors this year the United States Open, is a mix of history, beauty, and accessibility.

To celebrate Pebble Beach Golf Links 100th anniversary, the United States Golf Association (USGA) decided to stage the event at the storied layout, ranked as the No. 1 public course in the world.

The scenic, spectacular and testing course has played host to five previous US Opens and the centennial celebration promises to be an incredible event.

Rewind to the last time the event was staged at Pebble Beach and you will be awed by the victory of a 23-year-old Rolex Testimonee Tiger Woods who won the title by a record-setting 15 strokes over joint-runners-up Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

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As the USGA wanted to begin the millennium with a memorable tournament, Pebble Beach was moved up two years in the rotation.

Woods' dominant performance aside, the 2000 event had some big names such as Rolex Testimonee Jack Nicklaus (playing in his final US Open), Vijay Singh, the year's Masters winner, Els and David Duval.

The US Open teed off in 1895 with Horace Rawlins winning the inaugural championship. The event was not held in 1917 and 1918 and between 1942 and 1945.

So this brings to mind the symbiotic relationship between the association and course that would ensure that the event will be one that would be etched in everyone's memory.

Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus hold the record for the most US Open victories with four each. Hale Irwin is the oldest winner at 45 years and 15 days (1990) and the youngest winner is John McDermott at 19 years, 10 months and 14 days when he won in 1911.

The course is a severe test of skill, patience and mental toughness with the fairways being very narrow, the rough being thick and consistent and blemish-free putting surfaces.

Many consider the first hole as one of the worst opening holes but the finishing hole brings about a great climax for there have been much drama on the par-five which offers a good birdie opportunity if you keep your composure at the deciding stretch.

This year the purse for the event has been increased by US$500,000 to US$12.5 million, making it the biggest of all the Majors.