Not Everyone Flocking to Pebble Beach

By Golf Channel NewsroomFebruary 8, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmThere was a time, not so long ago, when a course alone could draw the top players in the world to a tournament. Pebble Beach was one; Riviera another.
Over the next two weeks, two of the most historic tournaments on the PGA Tour will take place ' on two vintage venues.
Some of the games best will be at this weeks AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, while others will be at next weeks Nissan Open. But few will be at both.
It used to be there were two or three good tournaments on the West Coast, now there are seven or eight maybe, said two-time AT&T winner Davis Love III, who will again play Pebble but skip Riviera. In the old days, you would play Pebble and Riviera and just throw another one or two in there.
Money is one reason for diversity along the left coast. Pebble pays out a $5.3 million purse; Riviera $4.8 million. Those might seem like big, big numbers, but every tournament on the West Coast swing ' with the exception of the Chrysler Classic of Tucson, which is played concurrently with the WGC-Match Play ' has a purse of at least $4.7 million.
And once players change time zones, theyll find that only one tournament has a purse of less than $5 million through the month of June.
The West Coast swing is an eight-week stretch comprised of nine tournaments. Pebble Beach and the Nissan are the precursors to the WGC-Accenture Match Play. With all of the money on offer, it makes it easier for players to pick and choose where they desire to play ' so as not to wear themselves out .
I feel obligated to play a lot of other tournaments, said 1998 Pebble Beach winner Phil Mickelson, who is taking off the week of the Nissan. I dont want to play seven in a row.
In 2001, Tiger Woods was the defending champion at Pebble Beach. There were seven of the top 10 players in the world in attendance that year; the next year there were five; then three; and three again last year. This year, four of the top 10 in the world are on the commitment list: Mickelson, Love, Mike Weir and defending champion Vijay Singh.
By comparison, Mickelson and Love will definitely skip the Nissan; however, players like Woods, Sergio Garcia and Stewart Cink will more than likely take their place.
Woods competed at Pebble Beach from 1997-2002, winning in 2000 (the same year he also won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach). But he has soured on the conditions of greens, saying last year, You walk off the golf course saying you can never make a 1-foot putt.
No one disputes that each golf ball needs its own ATV to navigate the bumpy terrain on the greens around the Monterey Peninsula. And, with the pro-am format, rounds reach upwards of six hours. Then, of course, there is always the potential for bone-chilling rain.
But for those loyal to the tournament ' and the course, they say: deal with it.
You can block those things out and just roll with it or you can use it for an excuse not to go. I think there (are) a lot of reasons to come here, said Love. Playing Pebble Beach and playing your Sunday round at Pebble, having a chance to win on a historic golf course is well worth playing a practice round in the rain. It's part of the experience here. There (are) very few places where everything is perfect. It's just a matter of which week you want to play.
Peter Jacobsen, the 1995 champion who has played in 25 of these tournaments, says that its more than just a good opportunity for a player to compete on a classic course ' its their obligation as a tour member to mingle with the financial mighty who help put money in their pockets.
I always say to them let me ask you this: how much did you make on tour last year? Four million? Would you trade one week, one week a year of basically giving back to your organization to make that every year? Most of the guys say, yeah, I would. And I go, well, then I'll see you in Pebble Beach next year, Jacobsen stated last year.
This is a very unique event, very special tournament. I think it's the most important event we have on the PGA Tour schedule, because we have a chance to rub elbows with all the CEOs and CFOs and executive VPs ' and most of our guests here this week that are playing really hold the PGA Tour in their hand in terms of the future success. And that's why I think it's very important for our top players to recognize that and play this event. And it hurts me ' it bothers me to see the declining numbers of great players, marquee players not playing this event, because it's so very, very important to the success of the tour.
This is the 64th playing of the tournament.
There are again three courses in the rotation this week. Players will compete on 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.
Approximately 200 square feet of rough along the left side of the 18th hole on the host course dropped into the Pacific Ocean in January, during the torrential storms that wreaked havoc on the west coast. That should have little impact during the tournament, however, since players aim to the right side of the fairway.
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:
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    Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

    By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

    She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

    Her confidence is high.

    “Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

    Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

    Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

    “One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

    “I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

    Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

    “I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

    That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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    Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

    PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

    While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

    But then . . .

    “Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

    In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

    She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

    With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

    At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

    Park’s back with a hot putter.

    That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

    “The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

    Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

    “But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

    Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

    Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

    They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

    Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

    “I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

    “She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

    Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

    “I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

    Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

    “When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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    Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

    PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

    It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

    “This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

    Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

    “First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

    Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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    Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

    By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

    PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

    She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

    That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

    With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

    Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

    Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

    Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

    “I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

    Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

    Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

    “I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

    About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

    “I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

    Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

    While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

    Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

    “You never know,” she said.