Things Change But Pebbles Charm Stays

By Associated PressFebruary 9, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Tim Herron walked back to the sixth tee Wednesday morning at Pebble Beach and took in a spectacular view of the 513-yard hole, which stretches out toward the Pacific Ocean, rising along the rugged cliffs on the right side of the fairway.
 
Something didn't look right.
 
``Wow,'' Herron said. ``Look at those cliffs.''
 
Then it dawned on him. He never could see the cliffs so clearly because of a large cypress tree. But that tree is no longer there, wiped out by holiday storms. It should make the par 5 play easier, because any tee shot that strayed too far to the right was blocked by the tree. Players either had to go over or around it.
 
``You can see the whole cliff now, and it's pretty cool,'' Herron said. ``But it changes everything, especially on the second shot. That tree played with your head.''
 
The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am will have a slightly different look when it gets under way Thursday.
 
Rain that deluged California six weeks ago also washed out a small section of the 18th fairway about 280 yards from the tee, making the landing area a little tighter. Plus, the two cypress trees replaced in the middle of the fairway were planted about 20 yards farther out than they were.
 
``I hit a drive where I used to, and it was 15 yards from the water -- not 25,'' Jim Furyk said.
 
But there are some things about Pebble Beach that rarely change.
 
One of them is the weather, and that's the good news. A tournament that developed a reputation for ``Crosby weather'' -- cold, rain, wind, rain, fog, rain -- looks as if it will be basking in sunshine for the fifth straight year.
 
And the field is eclectic as ever.
 
Because the three courses have room for 180 pro-am teams, the pros range from defending champion Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson to players like Steve Stricker, Garrett Willis and Tom Scherrer, whose only status on the PGA Tour is having won a tournament once upon a time.
 
Amateurs range from Hollywood stars (Bill Murray, Kevin Costner) to comedians (George Lopez) to athletes (Patriots coach Bill Belicheck, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice) to CEOs from Fortune 500 companies.
 
Another Pebble tradition over the last two decades is the type of name on the crystal trophy. Only three of the last 21 winners of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am have not won a major.
 
No other regular PGA Tour event has such a major list of winners over the last two decades. The next best is The Players Championship -- the fifth major -- with 16 of the last 21 champions having also won majors.
 
So many major winners at Pebble is no fluke.
 
``It's going to be a slow process of putting yourself in position and never really shooting yourself out of the tournament,'' said Mark O'Meara, a Masters and British Open champion who has won five times at Pebble. ``Then when the final round is played at Pebble, it's not like somebody is going out and shooting super, super low. A lot has to do with the fact the golf course can be a little intimidating at times.''
 
Furyk cited the quality of the courses -- especially Pebble and Spyglass -- and the size of the greens that require precision iron shots.
 
He was reminded of that during his practice round Wednesday with former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Lynn Swann. After negotiating a blind tee shot on No. 8, then an approach over a corner of the ocean, the green is about half the size as most he sees on the PGA Tour.
 
``It amazes me still how small these greens are,'' said Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion. ``But it's a good golf course. And it definitely requires a lot of patience. I'd like to add my name to that list.''
 
It's an impressive list.
 
Davis Love III has won twice in the last four years. Mickelson won the longest Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in tournament history, in 1998, when it started in February and ended in August because of rain. Payne Stewart won in 1999, the last time rain cut the tournament to 54 holes. Tiger Woods staged his seven-shot comeback a year later.
 
Singh made it look easy last year.
 
Tied with Arron Oberholser going into the final round, Singh missed the first three fairways and made birdie each time, the cruised to a three-shot victory. It proved to be the start of an incredible year -- nine wins, nearly $11 million in earnings, and ending Woods' five-year reign atop the world ranking.
 
``It was just a good platform,'' Singh said. ``I just played really relaxed from there on and just played great. I think that was a key victory to my great season because it kind of relaxed everything.''
 
And that might be the biggest key of all.
 
The celebrities out for a good time also contribute to 6-hour rounds, and so many footprints around the hole on the small greens will making the putting surface as smooth as broccoli. It can get aggravating.
 
But the payoff is worth it.
 
Pebble Beach isn't a major, but it is teeming with tradition, and it's a chance to join a major roll call of past champions.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
     
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.