Pebble Beach more beauty than beast this week

By Doug FergusonFebruary 8, 2012, 11:49 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – In what Robert Louis Stevenson called “the most felicitous meeting of land and sea,” the sea was winning Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

Jimmy Walker stood in the bunker next to the sea wall along the 18th fairway, soaking up the scenery. Every 15 seconds, waves crashed into the rocks and sent a spectacular splash of white surf some 15 feet high.

There was so much salt water in the front of the bunker that the father of Harris English said to Bob Estes, “Is this played as a waste area?” Estes smiled and pointed to the rakes placed neatly next to the sand. “No, these are bunkers,” he replied.

If the final day of practice for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was any indication, then this could be a special week.


Complete coverage: Tiger Woods | AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am


Not just because Tiger Woods is back at this event for the first time in 10 years. He practiced on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, which he had never seen. The last time he played, Poppy Hills was part of the rotation.

And not just because of the unique blend of amateurs from the world of Hollywood, sports and Wall Street. One group at Pebble featured San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, quarterback Alex Smith, retired lineman Harris Barton and Deutsche Bank Americas chief executive Seth Waugh.

There are times when the beauty of Pebble Beach makes a six-hour round tolerable.

No one was in any hurry Wednesday.

“If you have a bad experience here, it can feel like the longest week of your life,” Geoff Ogilvy said as he walked up the fourth fairway at Pebble, his head turned to the right to gaze at the sea. “If it’s a good experience, it’s enjoyable. And if it’s like this, it can feel like the greatest week of the year.”

It proved to be a tonic for Spencer Levin.

Only four days ago, Levin was poised to win his first PGA Tour event when he took a six-shot lead into the final round of the Phoenix Open. He found himself rushing, just wanting the final round to be over, and he kept dropping shots. A double bogey on the 15th hole doomed him, and Kyle Stanley rallied from eight shots behind to win.

Levin was heartbroken, which was to be expected.

“I was really bummed out Sunday night, pretty bummed out Monday,” Levin said. “But I got here, and then I was like, `Man, I get to play Pebble Beach today, so that’s pretty cool.’ It’s not like you’re going home and playing the muni in your backyard. `Wow, I’m at Pebble.’ So I didn’t think about it much playing out here.”

Davis Love III is making his 27th start at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

He was part of the washout in 1996 when the tournament was canceled because only 36 holes could be completed. He was there in 1998, when players had to return in August to get in three rounds and make it official. He won in 2001 and 2003 in good weather. He has been part of 54-hole events won by Payne Stewart and Dustin Johnson.

Even someone of his experience realizes this week is something special.

“I’ve never seen three golf courses in this good of shape,” Love said. “Guys that have played a lot this year said these are the best greens they’ve seen so far this year. You don’t usually hear that when you get to Pebble, Spyglass.”

The condition of the greens was one of the things that drove Woods away. Along with the occasional bad weather and six-hour rounds – it’s mostly a lot of standing around on the tees – there was a feeling that bumpy greens from 360 pairs of shoes eroded his confidence.

Then again, Woods is known to putt these poa greens better than most. It’s a skill to get the right pace on the medium-length putts, and having the confidence to drill the short putts.

“I think I’ve had my share of success on poa greens, just because the fact I grew up on it,” Woods said. “To come out here, popping it, it’s like second nature. My stroke does change. I don’t want it to change, but it does. It reverts back to how it was when I was a kid and how I putted. It’s worked out.”

The nasty weather – “Crosby weather” as it was known when Bing Crosby ran the show – can be overrated. After that bad patch of rain more than a decade ago (Woods won in 2000 on a Monday), there has been only one bad week of weather.

“I don’t think of this as a terrible weather tournament in history. Sure, we’ve had some rainouts. But I’ve seen a lot of nice days,” Love said. “It’s fun to play when it’s like this.”

The week will turn serious at some point, at least for the 156 players.

Woods is making his U.S. tour debut, having finished third in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship two weeks ago. It was a rare occasion when Woods had a share of the 54-hole lead and failed to win, yet considered it progress on what he hopes will be the road back to the top.

He is playing this week with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, and they start the three-course rotation Thursday at Spyglass Hill. Woods played a practice round there on Tuesday and had never seen it so dry and fast.

D.A. Points is the defending champion, although no one could be faulted for overlooking him. Woods commands a lot of attention this week, and what made Points’ win so compelling last year was having Bill Murray – comedian, actor, longtime Pebble clown – as his partner.

Among those in the field are Phil Mickelson, whose season is off to a sluggish start, and Padraig Harrington, who has become a regular at this event. Harrington feels the conditions give him a slight advantage because it’s the kind of weather he played in Ireland. He might be one of the few guys disappointed this week.

For everyone else, it’s a week to appreciate.

“This is why we come here,” Love said. “To get days like this.”


Watch first- and second-round coverage of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Thursday and Friday on Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


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And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

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Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

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Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

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Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

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Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.