Beauty and the Beast at the Beach

By Golf Channel NewsroomFebruary 2, 2004, 5:00 pm
Pebble Beach is both Beauty and Beast.
 
The imagery and the history lead to the former; the tumultuous weather and unpredictable greens leads to the latter.
 
Whichever one of the two faces players choose to look at determines their participation in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
 
Tiger Woods sees the Beast; even though Pebble has beautifully marked his resume.
 
He came from seven strokes behind with seven holes to play to win the 2000 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and later that year captured his first U.S. Open title at the same venue by a record 15 shots.
 
Woods returned in 2001 and 2002, failing to crack the top 10 on both occasions, and decided he had had enough. He skipped last years event and is doing the same this time around.
 
You walk off the golf course saying you can never make a 1-foot putt, he said earlier this year.
 
Pebble Beach isnt on the U.S. Open rotation through 2009, which means it could be a while before Woods returns to the Monterey Peninsula. Asked if he would return anytime soon to compete in the annual Pro-Am, Tiger replied, That depends on the greens.
 
Woods isnt the only player perplexed by the erratically bumpy putting surfaces.
 
David Duval, at the height of his popularity after winning the 2001 British Open, said he would bypass the 2002 Pro-Am because he was tired of hitting it a foot from the hole and not knowing if Im going to make it.
 
He returned in 2003 to miss the cut and is absent this year.
 
But others focus on the Beauty ' the picture-perfect views of the Pacific backdrop and the lore of the Pebble Beach Golf Links.
 
If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach, Jack Nicklaus has said.
 
Davis Love III, for one, will always see the attractive side.
 
Love snapped a near three-year winless drought by winning the Pro-Am in 2001. And after going winless in 2002, he prevailed again at Pebble last season. That was the first of four official wins in his best-ever campaign in his 18 years on the PGA Tour.
 
Love is the defending champion, but that doesnt make him the favorite to win again.
 
There have only been five players to successfully defend their title in the 62 years of this event. Mark OMeara was the last player to win back-to-back; doing so in 1989 and 90.
 
OMeara has won this tournament a record five times (1985, 89, 90, 92 and 97).
 
Still, the pre-tournament favorite may well be Phil Mickelson.
 
Mickelson, winless on tour in 2003, started this season by winning his debut at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and nearly making it two in a row at the FBR Open, tying for seventh.
 
He won in 1998, and narrowly lost to Love in 2001, finishing tied for third.
 
Vijay Singh, the 2000 and 2001 runner-up, is also in the field, as is Masters champion Mike Weir.
 
Singh has 11 consecutive top-10 finishes on tour, dating back to 2003.
 
There are three courses in the rotation this week. Players will play Pebble Beach Golf Links (par 72, 6,816 yards), Spyglass Hill (par 72, 6,862 yards) and Poppy Hills (par 72, 6,833 yards) each over of the first three rounds.
 
A cut is made after 54 holes to the low 60 professionals and ties. They will play Pebble Beach in the final round.
 
Each of the 180 pros has an amateur partner. All of the amateurs will play the first three rounds, with a cut to the low 25 teams and ties competing in the final round.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
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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.

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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."