The Young are Restless

By Associated PressFebruary 12, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Pebble Beach is paradise for most, a burden for many.
 
Look beyond the playoff between Steve Lowery and Vijay Singh, two guys who have combined to play more than 900 events on the PGA TOURnd there were three rookies in the top 10 who might have been at Pebble Beach more out of necessity than desire.
 
Here's hoping they return next year, and many years to follow.
 
Along with its reputation for bad weather, bad greens and six-hour rounds -- only the latter was true this year -- the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is the one PGA TOURent just about any pro can play. Because it has a 180-man field, there is room for everyone from Q-school and the Nationwide Tour, even those who lost their cards and have limited status.
 
Not even John Daly needed an exemption.
 
But in speaking with players over the first month, one topic that came up far too often was Pebble Beach. The message from several young golfers who had secured their status on the PGA TOURs they no longer had to go. They sounded relieved.
 
That's a shame.
 
Few other PGA TOUR events have such rich heritage, lasting memories, spectacular views and a potential payoff beyond prize money.
 
This is where Arnold Palmer played off the rocks behind the 17th green, where Hale Irwin hooked a tee shot on the 18th that was headed into the ocean until it caromed off the rocks below and back onto the golf course. Johnny Miller went 20 years between victories. Jack Nicklaus won five times, including a U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur.
 
Pebble is what produced the phrase 'Crosby weather,' so nasty at times that the tournament was canceled in 1996, postponed nearly seven months in 1998 and delayed in 1962 because of snow. That led to the famous line from Jimmy Demaret, who rolled out of bed at the Lodge, saw snow on the 18th green and said, 'I know I had a lot to drink last night, but how did I end up in Sun Valley?'
 
Bad weather hasn't been an issue since Tiger Woods won on a Monday in 2000, rallying from seven shots down with seven holes to play. Woods hasn't been back since 2002, and while his presence amps up the atmosphere wherever he goes, Pebble Beach might be the one PGA TOUR event that doesn't need him.
 
The main attraction is still the prettiest piece of property on the TOUR's landscape.
 
Inside the ropes can be appealing, too. Pebble has always been as much about relationships as birdies and bogeys, and while the cast of characters has changed over the years, perhaps no other tournament embodies the elements of the PGA TOUR, from corporate involvement to amateur participation to celebrity entertainment.
 
'Hey, Kev. Where's your tie?' Phil Mickelson said on the fifth tee Saturday to an amateur in the group behind him. 'Kev' in this case would be Kevin Costner, who for years went retro at Pebble with a tie that would have made Walter Hagen proud.
 
Scott Simpson gets asked more about longtime partner Bill Murray than that U.S. Open title he won in 1987.
 
Vijay Singh earned $954,000 when he won in 2004, and much more than that when he first played.
 
It was at Pebble Beach in 1994 that he first met Ted Forstmann Jr., his amateur, and they have been partners ever since. Singh wore a Forstmann Little & Co. logo on his shirt. According to a Golf Digest article in 2004, he earned more than $1 million from partial ownership in several companies with which Forstmann was involved.
 
Who knows where Joey Sindelar would be without a hamburger at Pebble Beach?
 
He was invited to lunch at a house owned by Jim Griggs, a businessman who for years headed the TOUR's Golf Course Properties board. They ate, socialized, hit it off, and Griggs told Sindelar to call if he ever needed anything.
 
'With my dad delivering mail and my mom driving a school bus, a sponsor was in order,' Sindelar said. 'I called him up and he met us in New York, and he sponsored me for three years.'
 
Even after Sindelar got his card and won twice in his second full season on TOUR, he said Griggs continued to sponsor him for the length of their agreement, imparting some business sense along the way.
 
'It's a book to tell you the kind things that guy has done for everyone in his life,' Sindelar said. 'Fabulous person.'
 
Davis Love III was introduced to Griggs as a rookie in 1986, and during the darkest chapter of Love's life, Griggs was among the first people he called. Love was in Kapalua for the Lincoln-Mercury International when he got word of a plane crash involving his father.
 
'I said, 'There's been a plane accident, but I don't know what's going on. Do you know someone who can charter a plane?'' Love said. 'When I got off the plane in San Francisco, he was standing there. He flew his own jet up there, and then he flew us home. He knew what was going on. Smart man.'
 
Pebble Beach can be about more than just golf.
 
'That's what we don't get about guys who don't come to this tournament,' Love said. 'You might get stuck with a celebrity and don't want to play with him. But you meet so many great people. And you're playing Pebble Beach.'
 
There's a long list of players who don't return because the greens are not as smooth as glass and they think it ruins their putting stroke. Others don't like the six-hour rounds of two pros and two amateurs, although how that's any worse than five-hour rounds among three professionals is a mystery.
 
Pebble Beach is not for everyone.
 
Those who rarely miss -- Love, Singh, Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson among them -- see it as a privilege.
 
That's something every young player should remember.
 
Related Links:
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.