Ranking the U.S. Open field

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The cream always rises to the top here at Pebble Beach.

In 1972, the first year the U.S. Open was held at this famed venue, Jack Nicklaus won the title. Ten years later, it was Tom Watson. A decade after that, Tom Kite prevailed. And in the most recent major held here, Tiger Woods triumphed by a record 15 strokes.

If you're scoring at home, that's three World Golf Hall of Famers and a no-doubt-about-it inductee.

Will another all-time great make it five in a row? Maybe not.

Playing to just 7,040 yards, the par-71 course will likely bring more players into the mix, as those who hit plenty of fairways and greens in regulation should have an advantage here.

With that in mind, a special nod to such competitors in this year's ranking of the 156-man field, where many quality players should be in contention come Sunday evening.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.