Pebble Beach Any Way You Slice it

By Associated PressFebruary 4, 2004, 5:00 pm
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The greens can be as rough as broccoli. The rounds can last as long as six hours, and that's assuming there are no delays from fog or rain, or both. It also depends on how many old ladies Bill Murray tosses into the bunker, how often Tommy Smothers does yo-yo tricks, and whether (Everybody Loves) Raymond Romano decides to play his next shot from the beach.
Worse yet, Tiger Woods stopped playing Pebble Beach last year, and he probably won't return until they rebuild the greens (forget it) or host another U.S. Open (count on it).
Ray RomanoDespite all that - or maybe because it - the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am remains an endearing fixture on the PGA Tour, and one of its most important tournaments.
It is one of the few that doesn't lose much luster when Woods stays home.
'He didn't play last year and we had record sales at the gate and our highest advance sales,' tournament director Ollie Nutt said. 'And our advance sales are 16 percent ahead of last year.'

No doubt, having Woods around adds some juice, and Nutt would love to have him back.
People still talk about that Monday afternoon on the Monterey Peninsula four years ago when Woods made up seven shots over his last seven holes and posted a 64, the lowest final-round score by a winner at Pebble.
Woods stopped playing because of the bumpy greens, and he's not the first to complain about them.
'You leave there thinking you can't make a 1-foot putt,' he said.
As for the weather, it can be spectacular (last year) or so nasty they call off the tournament (1996).
Six-hour rounds are no fun, although it's not so bad when players are paired with friends, as is often the case.
'If I was a consultant to this tournament, from a player's point of view, there are a lot of things I would do to make it better,' Brad Faxon said. 'But they don't need to do any of them to make this popular.'
Faxon tore ligaments in his right knee and missed the first month of the season. He decided against surgery, and worked hard to get back in time for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
It's his favorite tour event.
'There isn't a more beautiful place in the world,' Faxon said. 'I love this place when it's sunny, nice and warm. And I like it when it's tough.'
Faxon isn't sure what he'll get this week. His caddie, Tommy Lamb, heard the forecast was for cold and rain. A few minutes later, someone on the maintenance crew said it was supposed to be sunny the rest of the week.
No one ever said golf had to be played under sunny skies.
In the '62 Crosby Clambake, one round was postponed because of snow. Jimmy Demaret rolled out of bed in the Lodge, looked at the 18th green and said, 'I know I had a lot to drink last night ... but how did I end up in Sun Valley?'
Golf has changed so much over the years.
Tournaments are played on the TPC at (fill in the blank), designed to hold massive galleries. Hospitality tents seem to outnumber grandstands. Lawn mowers can cut a blade of grass to a fraction of an inch, and then rollers that move sideways make the greens even smoother.
Everything is so perfect.
That's not always the case at Pebble Beach.
Poa annua greens get bumpy this time of the year as seeds start to sprout. The greens are small, limiting the hole locations and increasing footprints. And when it rains, those prints can look like moon craters.
'It frustrates me when players grouse about the conditions of the golf course without checking the circumstances,' said Peter Jacobsen, making his 25th start at the AT&T. 'It has a tendency to rain here. And when greens get wet, I don't care if you're playing Isleworth, Augusta or Pebble Beach. It's going to be bumpy.'
What bothers Jacobsen more than griping about greens and weather is when players ignore the importance of the Pro-Am. Some of the CEOs playing this week are the reason $5 million purses are the norm, not the exception, and why there were 72 guys who earned more than $1 million last year.
'It's not like the amateurs are truck drivers, or people walking in off the streets,' Jacobsen said. 'If players would actually spend some time and look at these bios, rather than worry about their own stats, they'd realize these people are important.
'I would gladly give up one week a year to play with corporate CEOs that impact my tour to play 30 weeks worrying only about myself.'
Woods skipped Pebble last year while recovering from knee surgery, but that was a convenient excuse. He got tired of seeing 5-foot putts fishtail like a car skidding on ice, sending his confidence over the cliff.
He isn't alone.
Steve Flesch had such a tough time on the greens last year that he needed two months to rid himself of bad habits caused by trying to jam short putts into the hole.
Some don't trust the weather. Others don't like the marathon rounds.
No players should be criticized for skipping any tournament, especially if they think it hurts their game.
Just don't get the idea Pebble Beach can't survive without them.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
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    Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

    John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

    Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

    Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.

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    Gustafson shares stuttering success video

    By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 8:31 pm

    Sophie Gustafson shared a breakthrough Sunday morning on YouTube.

    Gustafson, a five-time LPGA winner and 16-time Ladies European Tour winner, shared her news in a 4-minute and 15-second video.

    She did so without stuttering.

    And that’s the nature of her breakthrough, something she is sharing in hopes that it will help others who stutter.

    “I’m certainly not perfect, and the next time you see me, I am going to stutter, there is no question about that,” she says in the video. “But I am excited, because I am going in the right direction, and I believe I have found the solution that works for me.”

    For someone who has struggled with stuttering all of her life, Gustafson has touched so many with her ability to communicate. She has entertained her legion of Twitter followers with her sense of humor. She also has written articles.

    Back in 2011, Gustafson touched Golf Channel viewers when she opened up about her stuttering in an interview that was aired during the Solheim Cup. Her courage in sharing her challenges was recognized the following year, when the Golf Writers Association of American presented her its Ben Hogan Award, an honor bestowed to someone who has persevered through physical ailment. She also won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award that year.

    Gustafson, 44, left the game as a player three years ago to become Beth Allen’s full-time caddie on the Ladies European Tour. She explains in the YouTube video that she is making her breakthrough with the help of Steve Gill, a team member with Tony Robbins’ life and business strategy group.

    Gustafson said Gill led her to breathing, meditation and incantation exercises that have helped her since they began working together eight months ago.

    “If you know anyone who stutters, tell them to breathe in and then speak,” Gustafson said. “I tried it the other way for 44 years, and it's just not working.” 

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    J.Y. Ko wins her first start as an official LPGA member

    By Randall MellFebruary 18, 2018, 4:09 pm

    Make way for Jin Young Ko.

    The South Koreans keep delivering one new star after another to the LPGA ranks, and they aren’t going to disappoint this year.

    Ko made some history Sunday winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to claim a wire-to-wire victory. She became the first player in 67 years to win her LPGA debut as a tour member. Beverly Hanson (1951) is the only other player to do so.

    Hyejin Choi, an 18-year-old who just turned pro, is yet another emerging South Korean star looking to crack the LPGA ranks. She finished second Sunday, three shots back after closing with a 67. She played on a sponsor exemption. She is already No. 11 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and likely to move up when the newest rankings are released. Had Choi won Sunday, she could have claimed LPGA membership for the rest of this season.

    Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

    Ko, 22, moved herself into early position to try to follow in Sung Hyun Park’s footsteps. Park won the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards last year. She joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to do so. Lopez did it in 1978. Park shared the Player of the Year honor with So Yeon Ryu.

    Ko said winning the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year Award is a goal, but she didn’t come into the year setting her sights on Player of the Year.

    “I haven’t thought about that yet,” she said.

    Ko finished at 14 under overall.

    It was a good week for rookies. Australia’s Hannah Green (69) finished third.

    Ko claimed LPGA membership this year based on her victory as a non-member at the KEB Hana Bank Championship in South Korea last fall. She’s already a star in South Korea, having won 10 times on the Korean LPGA Tour. She is No. 20 in the world and, like Choi, poised to move up when the newest world rankings are released.

    Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko closed with an even par 72, finishing tied for 19th in her 2018 debut. She is in next week’s field at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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    Luiten takes title at inaugural Oman Open

    By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 3:25 pm

    MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten of the Netherlands won the inaugural Oman Open on Sunday to break a title drought of nearly 17 months.

    The 32-year-old Dutchman shot a 4-under 68 to finish on 16-under 272, two shots ahead of his friend, England's Chris Wood (69).

    It was Luiten's sixth European Tour title and the first since the 2016 KLM Open.

    Frenchman Julien Guerrier (71) virtually assured that he would not have to go to qualifying school for the 12th time with a third-place finish after a 13-under 275.

    Luiten started with three birdies in his first four holes, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth set him back. On the back nine, he made three birdies, including a key one on the 16th, where he made a 30-foot putt.

    ''It feels great. I didn't know what to expect when I came here but to play a course like this which is in great condition - it's a great technical golf course as well - it was beyond my expectation and to hold the trophy is even better,'' said Luiten, who is expected to rise to No. 65 in the new rankings on Monday.

    ''I had a great start, that's what I was hoping for. I hit some nice ones in close and rolled in a couple of nice putts and that gets you in the right position, where you want to be.

    Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

    ''Unfortunately, I had a couple of bogeys as well on the front nine, but I recovered from that with a couple of nice birdies on the back nine and it was a good battle with Woody.''

    Playing one group ahead, England's Wood was right in the mix and tied with Luiten at 15-under when their fortunes went in opposite directions almost at the same time. On the 17th hole, Wood drove his tee shot into the hazard left and could do no more than chip his ball out for a bogey. Luiten, meanwhile, drained his 30-footer birdie putt on the 16th for a two-shot swing.

    Recovering his form after a series of disappointments, Wood was let down by the loss and said: ''It's golf isn't it? You are never happy.

    ''I played poorly for six or eight months. Would have never thought I would have put myself into contention. And when you do, you feel gutted when you don't win. I am pretty down really, but in the grand scheme of things, when I reflect after a couple of days, I will think it is a big step in the right direction.''

    Luiten's win also got him into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai, securing him a start at the WGC-Mexico Championship in two weeks.

    Frenchman Alexander Levy (70), who was hoping to finish in the top five to push into the top 10 in the Race to Dubai and grab the WGC-Mexico spot himself, did manage a joint fourth place at 11 under, but Luiten's victory kept him 11th.

    The European Tour next moves to Doha for the Qatar Masters starting on Thursday.