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
  • Getty Images

    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

    Getty Images

    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

    Getty Images

    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

    Getty Images

    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.