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.