Sun Stars and Phil at Pebble

By Associated PressFebruary 8, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- As anniversaries go, this is one the PGA Tour would like to forget.
It was 10 years ago at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am that Jeff Maggert took a one-stroke lead into the weekend and never hit another shot. Rain pounded the Monterey Peninsula, and with one hole at Spyglass Hill under water and a bleak weather forecast, tour officials felt their only option was to cancel the tournament.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is hoping for another family celebration on the 18th hole Sunday.
It remains the only time in the 69-year history of the tournament that no one left town with a trophy.
That was but a distant memory Wednesday, when a morning sky still speckled with stars gave way to a horizon of orange and blue as the sun climbed over the most picturesque peninsula in golf.
'Is this not the most beautiful hole in golf?' J.L. Lewis said as he stood on the 18th tee, watching the turquoise surf crash into the rocks, blending the white spray with the green grass and cypress trees.
Phil Mickelson is the defending champion when the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am gets under way Thursday, a tournament known for its mix of celebrity and CEO amateurs, six-hour rounds, bumpy greens with 360 players spread over three courses, and a strong roll call of champions -- 20 of the last 25 have won majors.
Weather is no longer a topic, except to marvel at it.
'I think '01 was the last time I played here,' Chris DiMarco said. 'This is the second time I've ever seen the sun here, so that's good.'
The last time rain interrupted Pebble Beach was when Tiger Woods rallied from seven shots behind over the final seven holes to win in 2000. Woods stopped coming back two years later, frustrated by the greens, but Pebble Beach has such tradition it does fine without him.
Vijay Singh, who won two years ago, has not missed this tournament since 1994. Davis Love III has never missed Pebble Beach since turning pro, and he'll be making his 20th start this year.
Love was in the hunt in 1996 when the tournament was canceled. He was two shots out of the lead in 1998 when rain forced a six-month delay and Mickelson won in August. He was there when rain cut short the event to 54 holes in 1999. And he remembers the outcry that Pebble should move to a different spot on the calendar.
'This is the year we point to and say, 'See, we should always play,'' Love said. 'It can get good. The timing is right, right after football. This is hugely popular with the fans. It's the time of year to watch golf at Pebble Beach.'
The cancellation 10 years ago did bring change.
The PGA Tour didn't have a firm policy on how to deal with bad weather, treating each situation as it came up. The Houston Open in 1991 was rescheduled from April to October because of heavy rain. David Eger was the rules official in charge at Pebble in '96 when he made the call to scrub the event.
'This was the event that caused additional focus on the fact we did not have a set of standards, a set of guidelines, on how to operate in excessive weather,' said Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour.
The policy was adopted in 1997 and takes up four pages in the players' handbook. The priority is for 72 holes, even that means going to Monday. The Players Championship is the only event that is allowed to go until Tuesday.
But throw the book out to sea this week.
The forecast is for sunshine and temperatures in the '70s throughout the week, which should allow for great television no matter which name is atop the leaderboard or even if Bill Murray doesn't toss anyone into the bunkers.
The 180-man field is the largest on the PGA Tour, 60 players (and their amateur partners) spread over Pebble Beach, tough Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills for the first three rounds with the final round at Pebble Beach.
Mickelson wrapped up his victory early last year.
He opened with a 10-under 62 at Spyglass, the most difficult course in the rotation and reputed to be the second-toughest in northern California behind Bayonet, a municipal course up the road in Seaside. Lefty never let up, winning by four shots despite closing with a 1-over 73.
This is his fourth tournament of the year, and Mickelson has yet to finish out of the top 10, although his only chance to win came at Torrey Pines when he was tied for the lead through 13 holes until three straight bogeys.
He plays his best golf on the West Coast, and he knows what it takes at Pebble Beach -- patience with the pace of play, and on the greens.
'It's very difficult to putt the week of the AT&T,' Mickelson said. 'I accept the fact I'm going to miss putts. I try from 20 and 30 feet to die the ball at the hole. The closer I can leave it, I will be able to two-putt. You just have to accept the fact guys aren't going to make every putt.'
One thing Mickelson won't have to worry about is the weather. Ten years after its lowest moment, Pebble Beach seems to be associated with sunshine.
Related Links:
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.