Picturesque Pebble can be a rocky road

By Associated PressJune 15, 2010, 3:58 pm

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif.– Henrik Stenson watched his ball bounce hard on the left side of the tightly mowed 18th fairway, skip over the rough, off the cliff, then onto the rocks down below.

A few moments later, he went to a place nobody wants to be when they start keeping score later this week.

He picked his way down the rocks and seaweed, found a good place to stand near the water 50 feet below, jumped and pirouetted a few times to miss the lapping waves, then clanked a wedge back up and onto the grass.

Welcome to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach – the toughest test in golf at one of the most scenic settings in the world.

“I had to move away a couple times. Once, there were little pebbles around the ball, another time, there was a pile of debris,” Stenson said. “But I got a club on it. If I hit a ball down there when the tournament starts, I’d have to consider going down there.”

Unlike most of the contenders in the 156-man field, Stenson will not have to deal with pre-wired notions of what Pebble “should” play like, or “normally” plays like. This is the Swede’s first time at the course that hosts the PGA Tour’s star-studded pro-am each February, but becomes a much different beast every 10 years or so when the national championship comes to town.

Balls that plugged into the fairway in February for Bing Crosby’s old clambake hit hard and spin forward in June.

Shots that would have landed softly on the greens four months ago are now vulnerable to careening off.

Rough that used to give way like butter is now four, five inches tall at some points – something of a concession to the U.S. Open norm, actually, because the greens at Pebble Beach are so uncompromisingly small.

“On a lot of these holes, you can hit a shot and be in the rough 5 feet from the green and you’ll be lucky to be putting after your next shot,” Stenson said.

K.J. Choi, a fourth-place finisher at this year’s Masters, spelled out a goal that only sounds plausible at the U.S. Open.

“I’m going to try to get through four rounds, and finish each day at par,” Choi said. “If I do that, that should be a pretty good score.”

The last time the U.S. Open was at Pebble, par didn’t stand a chance and neither did anybody not named Tiger Woods. In 2000, he shot a record 12-under par and won the tournament by 15 – a performance that goes down as the most dominating in the history of golf.

So much has changed, not only in the heavily detailed disorder of Woods’ personal life, but also in the finely planned details at Pebble Beach.

New bunkers have been added on Nos. 4 and 6 to tighten the landing areas. New tees have been added to lengthen four holes, including Nos. 9 and 10, which along with No. 8 run along the water and make up a stretch of possibly the three most picturesque holes in golf.

There’s a chasm of ocean separating the fairway from the green on No. 8, and the time the ball hangs over that gap is one of the longest, most harrowing few seconds in golf.

“You stand there, you watch it, you wonder if it’s ever going to come down,” said England’s James Morrison, who has the honor of playing his first career major this week at Pebble, a place where the wind can kick up and change the personality of almost any hole in an instant.

The most drastic change at the course that has charmed, befuddled and immortalized everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Jack Lemmon were the two trees planted in the middle-right of the fairway on the par-5 18th hole. They give players the possibility of being completely blocked if they try to play too far away from the left-hand side of the fairway. Hitting toward the left, of course, is the best way to reach the green in two. But play it too far left and you could wind up like Stenson – down among the fish.

It sets up the possibility of a big choice if someone comes to 18 on Sunday needing a birdie, something that has never happened at the U.S. Opens at Pebble.

Which isn’t to say Clint Eastwood’s course hasn’t produced its moments.

In 1972, Nicklaus hit a 1-iron on the par-3 17th, hitting the pin on the way to a birdie that gave him the second leg of the Grand Slam.

Ten years later, Tom Watson chipped in from the rough on No. 17 – one of the most iconic shots in golf – to pull away from Nicklaus for his sixth of eight majors. (The spot from where Watson hit the ball no longer exists, washed away by a storm that hit shortly after that year’s Open.)

In 1992, Tom Kite used his then-unique lob wedge to chip in on Pebble’s most famous hole – the much-posterized, 100-yard par-3 seventh.

Woods? Maybe the most memorable shot was one of the very few he missed in 2000, a snap hook into the ocean on No. 18, when he had come out early Saturday morning to finish his second round. A string of expletives followed, and then a weekend in which he redefined what golfing excellence means.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won,” said Rory McIlroy, who got his first PGA Tour win last month by firing a 62 in the final round at Quail Hollow.

Whether it’s Woods, Phil Mickelson or someone winning their first major, the way Lucas Glover did last year, Pebble Beach always paints a pretty picture.

“I’ve got to say, it’s one of the most scenic places in the world to play golf,” Stenson said. “Just some fabulous holes. Great views. You can see all the wildlife in the sea.”

And sometimes a few golf balls, too.

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.