Pebble Beach event offers something for everyone

By Associated PressFebruary 11, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. ' Practice rounds at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am are unlike any other on the PGA Tour.
 
Kenny Perry was on the putting green across from the Tap Room, dressed more for the ski slopes than 18 holes at one of the most famous golf courses in the world. The morning chill brought frost with every breath as the 48-year-old Perry meticulously tested a putter that will help with the poa annua greens.
 
Far more casual was the only other player on the green, who stood with hands in his pockets as he watched.
 
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had just returned from the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. He followed Perry to the first tee, without having been to the range, and without much of a warmup. He pulled driver from his bag.
 
Going long on the first play of the game, Manning said.
 
That he did, although if this were football, the pass would have wound up in the stands.
 
Manning will be playing with Webb Simpson, whose rookie season is off to a solid start, when the golfs greatest celebrity-corporate outing begins Thursday on three courses.
 
For Brad Faxon, Wednesday was just like most other pro-ams on Tour ' he played with four amateurs.
 
That was his choice.
 
His group included Seth Waugh, CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, and Tom Ryan, chairman and CEO of CVS Caremark Corp.
 
Isnt everyone playing with four amateurs? Faxon asked.
 
There was nothing but amateurs on the first tee later Wednesday, attracting the largest gallery of a glorious day on the Monterey Peninsula. Then again, with respect to Perry and Davis Love III and Fred Couples, these amateurs are a bit more famous ' the celebrity shootout field that included Bill Murray, Justin Timberlake, Kevin James, Huey Lewis and George Lopez, among others.
 
There is star power everywhere, even if that doesnt always include the world ranking.
 
Pebble Beach is doing just fine in that department, too. Its field includes three of the top five players in the world ' Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and double major winner Padraig Harrington. Perry returned to the top 10 after winning in Phoenix, while Jim Furyk is making his debut after a long winters nap.
 
This is one of the best weeks of the year, Harrington said.
 
He spent the first two days treating practice like the back nine of a major, wrapped up in a fourballs match with fellow Irishman Paul McGinley and their amateur partners, Irish businessmen Dermott Desmond and J.P. McManus.
 
I played matches yesterday, I played a match today, Harrington said on Tuesday. I think my partner is very sensible and hell rest tomorrow. But you know, its probably the best practice round of the year, where you can go out there and have a competitive fourball. It has a lot going for it.
 
Considering the climate ' economical, not meteorological ' Pebble Beach has rarely been so important.
 
It embodies every aspect of the PGA Tour, from entertainment to competition to corporate support. But in recent years, some players view it as the tournament to avoid because of the dodgy weather, bumpy greens and six-hour rounds.
 
I was talking to Hunter Mahan today. He loves to play here, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. But he also said, You know, theres no place better to meet people that are good to meet. Theres a ton of people here that make a lot of decisions that relate to investment in the game of golf, investment in players through companies they represent, and thats an important part of what players do.
 
If youre not going to play here every year, its some place youd want to play on a reasonably frequent basis.
 
Finchem spoke to Mahan on the fairways of Pebble Beach, and the commissioner was not in his usual coat-and-tie. He wore soft spikes, a dark sweater with a Whistling Straits logo, and a golf glove.
 
After year of prodding, one of the CEOs at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am includes the PGA Tour commissioner himself.
 
The tour gets five spots in the pro-am each year that it usually gives to corporate partners, and Finchem is using one of those spots. Hell play with Love, who was on the policy board in Finchems first year as commissioner in 1994. The other team will be Mahan and Randall Stephenson, chairman of AT&T.
 
The only mystery was the draw sheet.
 
Finchem and Stephenson were to play the same course rotation as the celebrities (opposite side of the course) ' Spyglass Hill, Poppy Hills, Pebble Beach. But a revised draw sheet on Wednesday had them away from the celebrities (translation: attention) by teeing off Thursday at Pebble Beach.
 
Finchem plays to a handicap of 6.
 
Tim has been working hard on his game the last few weeks, cramming for the final exam, Love said. I keep telling him I only need him on four or five holes; I dont need him all the way around. Its going to be a fun week as always here.
 
Finchem appears to be a legitimate 6 handicap. On the most daunting approach at Pebble, over the cliff to a severe green at No. 8 ' he hit a hybrid to 8 feet.
 
Im delighted that Davis would be happy if I played four or five holes, because thats probably all hell get, Finchem said.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Monterey Peninsula proves it's a golf destination for all types
  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.