Super Bowl Atmosphere at Pebble Beach

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 6, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmWith the Super Bowl now over and done, the PGA TOUR steps center stage to showcase this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
 
With a stellar field, a star-studded mix of celebrities and the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links playing host, the PGA TOUR season starts to pick up a bit of steam.
 
Five of the top 10 players in the world will be on hand, including world No. 2 Jim Furyk, two-time champion Phil Mickelson and 2004 champ Vijay Singh. They'll be joined in the field by a pair of Europe's finest in Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington.
 
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk should be well rested as he comes to play Pebble Beach. (Wire Images)
But the way things are at Pebble Beach, the aforementioned superstars may take a backseat to celebrities that give this TOUR stop a Super Bowl feel.
 
The usual suspects will all be here - Bill Murray, Ray Romano, Kenny G., Kevin Costner, Huey Lewis, George Lopez and Kevin James.
 
But make no mistake that the golf doesn't take a backseat here. A quick look at the past champions of this event and you'll see why - the late Payne Stewart, Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Singh and Davis Love III just to name a few.
 
Woods, however, has not played in the event since his tie for 13th in 2002. One reason is the fact that he plays halfway around the world in Dubai the week prior to Pebble Beach and doesn't normally play a European Tour event and a PGA TOUR event in back-to-back weeks.
 
And that's obviously good news for the rest of the field seeing that Tiger has won the last seven events he's teed it up in.
 
Another person who will be missing from the field is last year's champion Arron Oberholser, who will not be back to defend his title due to an injury that will force him to miss four to six weeks of action.
 
'This couldn't have happened at a worse time for me,' said Oberholser. 'Missing the chance to defend my AT&T title on my favorite courses in the world is just awful. I said last year this is my fifth major and I meant it.'
 
Heres our list of players to watch for from four different categories: Superstar (top-10 ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking); Second Tier (guys outside the top 10, but no lower than 100); First-Timer (a player who has never won before on TOUR); Veteran (a guy who has played 10-plus years on the PGA TOUR and may or may not have won in some time).
 
Davis Love III
Davis Love is a two-time winner of this event. (Wire Images)
Superstar
Like already stated, Mickelson has twice won this event and as recently as 2005. But his start to this season has been absolutely dreadful. Therefore, world No. 2 Furyk is the pick this week. He's coming off a tie for fourth at the Sony Open in Hawaii and will be fresh and ready to go having not played in three weeks. Furyk has played this event 10 times and has three top-5 finishes.
 
Second Tier
The format at Pebble Beach calls for the players to play three different courses for the first three days - Pebble Beach, Poppy Hills and Spyglass Hill. And one of the best players to have success when events are played on multiple courses is Davis Love. Four times in his career Love has won playing in this type of format, including twice here. He held off Singh for his first win in this event in 2001 and then battled Tom Lehman for a victory two years later. In all, he has six career top-10 showings at Pebble Beach.
 
Veteran
The results from the first two trips Mike Weir made to Pebble Beach were fruitless, a pair of missed cuts. The last four trips you ask? A tie for third, a tie for fourth, a runner-up and another tie for third last year. The 2003 Masters champion is most certainly due to finally get into the winner's circle. The three courses are some of the shortest the players face all year which brings it into the short-hitting Weir's wheelhouse.
 
First-Timer
A long-time resident of California, and a former winner of the California State Amateur Championship as well as a First-team All-American at Cal, Charlie Wi should feel quite comfortable at Pebble. Though his last name has gotten him some unwanted attention due to its close association to a certain Hawaiian teenager, Wi has had a couple of quality starts to his season with a T-32 at the FBR and a top-10 at the Buick. It should be noted that he is working with the same coaches as newly crowned champion Aaron Baddeley.
 
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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.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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    Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

    After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

    La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

    "Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

    Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

    The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

    "That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."

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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.