Hands up how many of you thought that by the year 2019, we’d all be living in some domed, futuristic utopia and dressing in shiny silver suits, beetling about on hover boards and going on intoxicating dates with holograms?

No, me neither. We just continue to muddle on as before while busying ourselves with hum-drum chores, the odd moan about the weather and frequent frowning.

Two decades ago, we were all working ourselves into a panic-stricken fankle as the countdown to the year 2000 intensified and boggle-eyed boffins whipped the world into an appalling lather with apocalyptic predictions about the impact on technology of the Millennium Bug.

Planes would plummet from the sky, kettles would rise up and attack pensioners as they were nonchalantly preparing a saucer of Scotch Abernethy biscuits to accompany their cuppa and rampaging hoovers would storm the Houses of Parliament.

Given the pitiful list of oddballs and absurdities that have put their names forward to be the next Prime Minister, perhaps a hoover leading the country wouldn’t have been so bad after all?


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Of course, Y2K was also the year when Tiger Woods was in his imperious pomp and, with the US Open returning to Pebble Beach this week, all and sundry have been reflecting on his magical win there in 2000 when he conjured the kind of triumphant procession that should have been accompanied by bunting, horse guards and reverential musings from Nicholas Witchell.

The very nature of golf, with its vast variables, wildly fluctuating fortunes and endless what-ifs, maybes and might-have-beens, means the search for perfection would make the quest for the Holy Grail look like a quick guddle down the back of the couch.

“No one will ever have golf under his thumb, no round ever will be so good it could not have been better,” remains one of the well-spouted pearls about this great game. In 2000, Woods got pretty close to perfection though.

His 12-under tally gave him a jaw-dropping 15-shot victory as the second-placed duo of Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez came wheezing in about a full calendar month behind the all-conquering Woods.

Even a seven-over aggregate was good enough for a top-10 finish that week. The rest of the field were playing in a different tournament. “Well, I guess I won,” was Woods’ fairly modest summing up of affairs in his post-victory press conference.

Of course, Woods would go on to blitz the field again in the Open at St Andrews a few weeks later when he plotted his way to an eight shot win to complete the career grand slam.


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Here in 2019, it remains remarkable that Woods is still very much a favourite to succeed after all that he has been through in recent years.

The reigning Masters champion’s return to the Monterey Peninsula is just one storyline in an feast of tantalising tales that could be played out this week.

Brooks Koepka, fresh from his win in the US PGA Championship last month, is aiming to become the first player to win three US Opens in a row since Scotland’s Willie Anderson completed his hat-trick back in 1905.

Phil Mickelson, with six runners-up finishes in the US Open, has still not given up on the elusive win that would finally give him the career grand slam while Dustin Johnson heads back to the scene of his calamitous closing round of 82 when leading by three in 2010 which, in many ways, started his ill-fated relationship with the majors.

Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, has struggled with all aspects of his game for the past year but three succesive top-10s, including a third in the US PGA, has hinted at a return to more profitable times for a three-time major winner who won at Pebble Beach on the PGA Tour in 2017.

As for Rory McIlroy? Well, he’s probably pitched up in California wreathed in plumes of burning rubber after racing to a fantastic seven-shot win in the Canadian Open on Sunday.


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It was a shimmering tour de force and one which demonstrated that when he is in full flow, with all the cogs and pistons of his game working in perfect unison, you’ll struggle to see a finer sight in golf.

When he plays like that, McIlroy tends to produce a romp. His eight shot wins in the 2011 US Open and the 2012 US PGA Championship highlight that. By virtue of a closing 61 on Sunday afternoon, McIlroy (above) will head to Pebble Beach with a spring in his step while many are already convinced he will ride that wave and end his five-year major drought. That’s easier said than done, of course.

Going into the Masters, McIlroy was just about the hottest player on the planet in terms of consistently high finishes but his assault on the green jacket ended in a sighing anti-climax. In this most fickle of games, what you do one week is often not predictive of what will happen the next. McIlroy is well aware of that.

“I never try to get too carried away when I’m playing good, and I never get too carried away when I’m playing badly as both of those instances are not far away from each other,” he said of golf’s fine margins.

With their propensity for self-inflicted controversy, the US Open’s custodians, the USGA, have made a habit of overshadowing this showpiece through their own incompetence down the years, particularly when it comes to mind-mangling course set up.

At a storied venue and with a host of intriguing storylines in the offing, let’s hope the USGA officials are not the story this time.