Hooks & Cuts: Cypress, Pebble and legends

By Rich LernerFebruary 6, 2014, 4:05 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - Legends abound on the Monterey Peninsula. From Pebble to Cypress to tales of old, here are some some Hooks & Cuts hovering around the Pacific.

• John Daly is paired with Kid Rock this week.  Rock’s put out a few songs that fit JD to a tee: “Rebel Soul,” “Devil Without a Cause,” and “Wasting Time.”

• If the weather gets nasty, I like Aaron Rogers and Tom Brady over Peyton Manning. 

• Old shtick never gets old if it’s good shtick.  This is good and old: Jack Lemmon putting for 10 on the final hole asks his caddie which way the putt breaks and the looper says, “Who cares?”

• You know you’re playing at a really cool spot when the caddie says to you, “This was Hogan’s favorite shot on the golf course.”  The course was Cypress Point and the shot was the second to 12, a 6-iron from 155 with the Pacific wind pushing back.

• Promising young pro Justin Thomas had a nice Wednesday.  His Alabama Crimson Tide landed the No. 1 recruiting class in college football, and he played Pebble for the first time in his life. 

• Davis Love III, asked to name a couple of celebrities with swing action he liked through the years, gave me Orel Hershiser and Indy racer Danny Sullivan.

• Jim Furyk loves football and described the Denver Broncos’ super bust this way: “To have such a great year end this way is like leading the Masters for 71 holes only to lose on the last. It’s an empty feeling.”

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, videos and photos

• David Gill, a 3-handicap member at Tehema near Pebble, won the pro-am with Skip Kendall in 2000.  Asked to describe the accomplishment, he said, “It’s the holy grail.” Does he remember any specific shots?  “I hit my second shot on No. 8 to 9 feet and made birdie.” You never forget that stuff, do you?

• Playing partner Joe Don Rooney of the band Rascal Flats is writing a new song about my experience at Cypress’ fabled par-3 16th, 238 yards over the ocean (pictured above). It’s called, “I’m not man enough.”  I wrecked a nice round with two snipes that are washing up in Tahiti right about now.

• Furyk’s fondness for Pebble goes beyond the golf.  He and Tabitha were engaged in Carmel in 2000.

• Tip of the Hogan cap to four great college coaches inducted into the Northern California Golf Association Hall of Fame on Tuesday night at Spanish Bay: Steve Desimone from powerhouse Cal; Mark Gale, who saw Juli Inkster, Pat Hurst and Patty Sheehan come through the San Jose State women’s program; Wally Goodwin, who looked after Tiger Woods and Notah Begay at Stanford; and, his successor, Conrad Ray, Tiger’s former teammate.

• A bogey at Pebble’s tiny seventh takes some of your soul. It robs you of your manhood.  But the focus shouldn’t be the score.  At No. 7, it’s just you and the Lord and the game you’re blessed to play.

• Desimone’s seen a lot in his 35 years at Cal. He said it was plain to see 20 years ago that Tiger and Phil Mickelson, as collegians, were both lead-pipe cinches for all-time greatness.  I asked him if he’s had that feeling about any recent players. “(Jordan) Spieth has superstar written all over him,” he responded. “He’s long, he putts and he’s fearless.”

• Lost in conversation walking off the 17th, I looked up as we arrived at the 18th tee at Pebble. My knees just about buckled.

• From one of Pebble’s owners, Dick Ferris: “People ask me what it’s like to own Pebble and I always tell them that we’re just stewards of a national treasure.”

• Beyond Spieth, Desimone pointed to Alabama’s Cory Whitsitt, Justin Thomas and Bobby Wyatt as “can’t-miss kids,” along with Patrick Rodgers of Stanford.  And naturally he’s high on his own charges: Michael Weaver, Max Homa, Michael Kim and Brandon Hagy.

• Stories come at you like Pacific waves this week.  The artist and historian Jim Fitzpatrick related a good one. The late Ken Venturi caddied at Cypress as a kid, sitting on the bench behind 16 tee at day’s end waiting for his pop to pick him up after he’d sold netting to the fishermen down at Monterey’s wharf. The old-time bag men took care of the kid, fed him fried chicken. Kenny always vowed that someday he’d win the U.S. Open and then return to treat the caddies. Sure enough, after the courageous victory at Congressional, Kenny showed up one day and popped open the trunk of his Cadillac. Inside was Kentucky Fried Chicken and champagne. Kenny and the caddies celebrated.

• Heady Joe Ogilvie says Pebble’s 14th is the hardest par 5 in golf, that if you played just the 14th 72 times in a stroke-play event, into a 10-mile-per-hour wind, the winning score would be 10 over.

• Desimone reminisced about Cypress’ beloved pro Jim Langley, who passed away last year at 75.  Langley not only played golf at Cal, but basketball as well. He was part of the 1959 team that beat Oscar Robertson and Cincinnati in the semis and then Jerry West and West Virginia in the final on the way to winning the NCAA title.

• The celebrity field is not light on legends with Wayne Gretzky, Brady and Manning at the top of the list. But the best of them all may well be surfing giant Kelly Slater. The 11-time world champion flew to Pebble late Wednesday after earlier that day winning the Volcom Pipe Pro in Hawaii at almost 42 years of age. Slater’s also a 3-handicap.

• Geoff Ogilvy, as reasonable and thoughtful as any Tour pro I know, said he felt like some of the fans in Scottsdale were getting a little too rambunctious, at times even a bit ugly. He thinks the tenor’s changed in the last couple of years, and not for the better.

• Eighty-five years ago on the Monterey Peninsula, a talented woman and a Nebraska caddie unknowingly had a hand in the creation of Augusta National. The woman was Marion Hollins, the 1921 U.S. Women's Amateur champion who brought in Alister MacKenzie to design Cypress Point and Pasatiempo, two courses she helped to develop. The caddie was Johnny Goodman, who upset Bobby Jones in the first round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. With time on his hands after his defeat, Jones explored the other golfing treasures on the peninsula and was subsequently introduced to MacKenzie by Hollins. Impressed with what he saw, Jones hired MacKenzie. The rest is history.

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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.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.