Ultimate Grinder Reavie (T-3) Seeks Best Major Finish
June 16, 2019 Pebble Beach, Calif. By Dave Shedloski
Chez Reavie finds himself tied for third heading into Sunday's final round at Pebble Beach. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Chez Reavie is not without experience winning a championship. It’s just been a while.

Reavie is one of the bigger surprises on the leader board heading into the final round of the 119th U.S. Open – and for several reasons. A gutsy, scrambling 3-under-par 68 Saturday in the third round at Pebble Beach Golf Links has him in the best position he’s ever been through 54 holes of a major championship. He’s tied for third with reigning two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, and 2010 Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen at 7-under 206, four strokes behind leader Gary Woodland.

In his previous six U.S. Open starts, Reavie – whose full given name is William Chesney, after his grandfather – had only been inside the top 10 once after any round, that coming in the first round in 2011 at Congressional when he opened with a 1-under 70 for 10th place.

The experience he will draw on when he tees it up in the penultimate group with Koepka at 2:19 p.m. PDT today is his victory in the 2001 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Reavie defeated Walker Cup veteran Danny Green in 38 holes at Pecan Valley Golf Club in San Antonio. His patience and the ability to grind were the difference.

And that’s what he’s been doing at Pebble Beach.

“Yeah, that’s part of it,” he said when asked if his Public Links win still lingered in his mind. “I've gone through some injuries early in my career since I've been out on Tour, so that gives me a good perspective and helps me stay patient and realize it's a process. You can't win the golf tournament on the first hole. You have to hang in there and stay patient.”

He was grinding in the third round, hitting just nine greens in regulation. But he only suffered one bogey, at the difficult par-4 eighth hole, while converting four birdies. On the day he ranked fourth in the field in strokes gained-short game and he gained 4.0 strokes on the field combined in short game and putting. Nine of 10 times he got up and down from inside 50 yards, better than all but three players.

It was quite a study in perseverence for the 31-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz., who tied his second-lowest score in 21 U.S. Open rounds.

With 17 previous major starts, Reavie still is in search of his first top-10 finish. But he is coming off a T-12 in the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. His best U.S. Open showing is T-16 in 2017 at Erin Hills. Both are long championship tests.

“Bethpage, I played well there, but I was wearing out my 4-iron, and 5-iron and hybrid,” said Reavie, who has just one PGA Tour victory, the 2008 RBC Canadian Open. “That's what makes this golf course great. They can make it just as challenging with hitting 4-irons off the tees and wedges and greens. If you get one shot out of position, you can't get greedy, you have to figure out how to get the next in position.”

Should Reavie emerge with the victory, he’d join 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman as the only winners of the Publinks to capture a major title. He knows what he has to do. It will take more than just good scrambling.

“Fairways and greens,” he said about his game plan. “No bogeys.

“I really enjoy playing here. This is the firmest and fastest I've ever played it,” he added. “But it's just … it's fun because you hit every club in your bag. There's many ways to play different holes. You've got to pick out the way that's most comfortable for you and just grind it out.”

Which he seems comfortable doing.

Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to usopen.com and usga.org.