Garrigus Johnson leading the way at ATT

By Associated PressFebruary 12, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. ' Sunshine and tranquil conditions turned the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am into paradise Thursday, and it was particularly ideal for big hitters Robert Garrigus and Dustin Johnson.
 
Garrigus reached the uphill, 529-yard seventh hole at Spyglass Hill with a 5-iron and holed a 50-foot eagle putt, then closed out his first round with consecutive birdies for a 7-under 65.
 
Bill Murray
Bill Murray is part of the celebrity rotation at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (Getty Images)
Johnson, another natural athlete with height and power, holed out a 9-iron from 151 yards for eagle on the first hole at Pebble Beach and played bogey-free for a 65.
 
Such scores are rare at Spyglass and Pebble except when the wind and rain go on hiatus, which was the case on a gorgeous afternoon on the Monterey Peninsula. And theres a big advantage with length on soft courses in chilly weather.
 
I look forward to golf courses playing long. Thats my game, said Garrigus, who is making his 90th start on the PGA Tour and found his name atop the leaderboard for the first time after any round.
 
Rich Beem isnt particularly long, but he did practically nothing wrong.
 
The former PGA champion hasnt been back to the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am since 2000, and he had no intention of returning until he lost his card last year and could no longer choose where he wanted to play. But he was loving it Thursday, opening with three birdies and finishing with two more.
 
The only drama came early, when Beem felt a few drops of rain on the first hole at Pebble Beach and asked his caddie for the umbrella.
 
What umbrella? Bill Heim replied.
 
Turns out it had been misplaced, and Beem dashed into the pro shop to borrow one. He didnt need it, as the sun quickly emerged and the birdies started falling.
 
Also at 66 were Vaughn Taylor (Pebble Beach) and Charley Hoffman (Spyglass Hill).
 
Vijay Singh, in his first tournament since minor knee surgery after the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, opened with a 72 at Poppy Hills, while double major winner Padraig Harrington struggled to a 74 on the same course.
 
Phil Mickelson had a 72 at Spyglass.
 
Garrigus is among the longest hitters in golf, and its no accident.
 
His dream of playing baseball ended at age 13 when he threw out his arm on the mound and broke his leg on a dirt bike. His grandfather handed him a driver and told him to swing as hard as he could until he turned 18.
 
Sure enough, I was hitting it over 300 yards when I was 15 years old, he said.
 
The rest of the game has been slow to catch up. Garrigus shot 93 the first time he played and was down to 69 a year later, but against stronger competition, he had to learn to keep the ball in the short grass and make some putts. Changing to a 28-inch putter helped the latter, and he is getting more comfortable on tour.
 
Its kind of an ego thing, but I really dont want to be known as the guy who hit it farther, he said. I want to be known as the guy who makes everything, because thats where the money is.
 
His finish was on the money at Spyglass, traditionally the tougher of the three courses, starting with his 5-iron into the par-5 seventh green. Garrigus followed that with an 8-iron into 8 feet and another 8-iron into 15 feet on the last two holes for birdie.
 
Johnson concedes his length helps, especially reaching par 5s that others cant, but his 65 came despite making only one birdie on the par 5. He nearly reached the 18th in two, but chipped to 10 feet and missed the putt.
 
Even so, he had few complaints about the day.
 
It was beautiful out there, he said. You cant have a bad time on this golf course.
 
Davis Love III was among the early leaders until he dropped a few shots coming in and had to settle for a 69. As for the pro-am portion of the round, his partner made it sound like a case of Hit the ball, drag Tim.
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem played for the first time, and while he contributed a few shots along the way, he made double bogeys on two holes when he got a stroke with his handicap, and they were holes were Love made bogey.
 
Finchem conceded to being nervous, and if you watched any of my shots, you could tell.
 
It was great fun, he said. As many times as Ive been on the fairway with guys talking to them, when you get to observe that close, it does reacquaint you with how good they are. And you get the feeling of being totally inadequate.
 
Mark Calcavecchia was among those at 67, while Retief Goosen was in the large group at 68. The conditions were so good that 87 players broke par, a group that included Jim Furyk, who shot 71 at Spyglass in his 2009 debut.
 

Related Links:
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

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    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

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    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

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