Punch Shot: Which celebrity would you want to play with at Pebble Beach?

By Jason SobelFebruary 6, 2013, 5:40 pm

This week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is one of the coolest spectacles in sports, pairing the world's greatest golfers with A-list celebrities from several different walks of life. But if you could only choose one celebrity playing partner, who would it be? GolfChannel.com makes their picks for the week on Monterey Peninsula’s premier golf courses.


Like most questions, I can take this one a lot of different ways.

Do I want a celeb with whom I could be starry-eyed and hang on his every word? If so, give this New England Patriots fan Bill Belichick and watch as I wear out the word “genius” over the course of 54 holes.

Do I want a celeb with whom I have a prior relationship? For years, I was one of Chris Berman’s producers at ESPN. Teeing it up with Boomer would ensure plenty of laughs and I think he’d help shake any nerves that I might have standing on the first tee at Pebble.

Do I want a celeb with whom I can win the tournament? Umm, in that case, can’t Phil Mickelson be called a celeb? I’ll pair with him and reap the benefits – even if he does have to play as a plus-6 handicap for the week.

In the end, though, I think I’d decide to be less fan, friend or competitor and continue my usual role of reporter. To me, that means pegging it with the best story in the field – recently named Augusta National member Condoleezza Rice.

Just think: After three days slogging it around the peninsula with Condi, I’d have enough material to fill a week’s worth of Masters preview content. And that’s better than winning the pro-am anyway. Or at least, that’s what I’m gonna let my bosses think.


Carson Daly.

For people of a certain age, the former host of MTV’s Total Request Live played a prominent role in our formative years. Daly and his spectacularly gelled hair came into our living rooms every afternoon, from 3:30 to 5:30, and answered all of our most pressing questions.

Important questions – crucial information – such as: What’s up with Britney and Justin? Is her next music video even more scandalous than the last?

Which activist group has Eminem upset now? Will my mom let me buy his latest CD?

Which boy band will make me least nauseas today?

Which rock group is more head-bangingly awesome, Limp Bizkit or Korn?

And there was Daly, in the middle of it all, counting us down from 10 to 1, interviewing the most mentally unstable musicians in the industry.

He’s older now – 39 years old, if you can believe it – and the innocence is lost. Maybe it’s because he has a talk show I’ve never seen. Maybe it’s because he dated Tara Reid.

Whatever the case, those simpler, happier times won’t soon be forgotten. One day, perhaps, I’ll finally be able to thank him.


Give me 18 holes with Ray Romano.

My wife is a fan who falls asleep every night watching re-runs of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” It’s like the Barones are our neighbors. We know more about Ray, Debra, Robert, Frank and Marie than we know about our actual neighbors. So give me five hours with Ray Romano, whom I met after his pro-am round at the Kraft Nabisco two years ago. What immediately struck me is that he must not have had to act much in his popular sitcom, because he always seems to be in character. He was off-the-cuff funny after his round with Paula Creamer.

“He’s a funny guy, and it’s like he’s not even trying,” Creamer said that day.


Wayne Gretzky.

Rarely do you get the opportunity to tee it up with a living legend in any sport, so I’m jumping at the chance to play alongside The Great One.

While it perhaps puts me in the minority among American sports fans, I still care about hockey. A chance to stroll the fairways and chat with Gretzky about his prolific years in Edmonton and his central role in perhaps the biggest sports trade of the last 30 years would be truly unique. It might require toeing a fine line, but I could perhaps also get some insight into how Dustin Johnson, daughter Paulina’s new beau, acted when meeting he and wife Janet for the first time. Surely that was a rendezvous that goes down in the 'Meet the Parents' Hall of Fame.

Speaking of Janet … even though it would likely earn me little more than a stern glare, I couldn’t miss a chance to ask Wayne if his wife, having been named years ago as the centerpiece of a large sports gambling ring, has any 'locks' for the upcoming season. Worst he could say is no…right?

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.