Oberholser Wins Pebble After Weir Meltdown

By Sports NetworkFebruary 12, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Arron Oberholser capitalized on some early Mike Weir mistakes, then overcame his own miscues on the back nine Sunday to earn his first PGA Tour victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Oberholser only managed a final-round, even-par 72 to finish at 17-under-par 271, but it was good for a five-shot win.
'To win at Pebble Beach in front of the home fans is awesome,' acknowledged Oberholser. 'The greens were firming up and fast. I was hanging on for dear life a little bit on the back nine. I'm glad I could get into the house.'
Rory Sabbatini actually came in second place after a two-under 70. He posted a 12-under-par 276 total at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Weir, who shared the 54-hole lead with Oberholser, struggled badly on Sunday. He shot a 6-over 78 and tied for third place with Jonathan Byrd, who carded a 3-under 69. The duo finished at minus-11.
The two third-round co-leaders were knotted at 17 under par, but it did not take long for Oberholser to take command. At the par-five second hole, Weir, the 2003 Masters winner, hit his second shot out of bounds. He knocked his fourth shot into a greenside bunker and blasted out to 11 feet. Weir missed the bogey putt, and Oberholser got up and down for birdie from a different trap. The three-shot swing put Oberholser in firm command of the lead.
He extended it at the next hole, although Weir assisted in giving Oberholser a bigger cushion. At the par-4 third, Oberholser ran home a 9-foot birdie putt, while Weir missed the fairway off the tee and walked off with a bogey. In three holes, the duo went from a tie for the lead, to Oberholser standing on the fourth tee with a five-stroke margin.
'My wedge game and my putting was what killed me,' admitted Weir, who blamed mud on his ball for the errant second at No. 2. 'I putted poorly. When you hit 13 out of 14 fairways and shoot 78, your wedge game and putting is usually not very good.'
Oberholser gave one back at the fifth hole when he missed a 6-footer for par. Both players birdied the par-5 sixth when Oberholser sank a 4-footer and Weir played his third shot inside a foot. At the short, par-3 seventh, Weir hit a poor shot to 34 feet. He missed the birdie try, but left himself with 4 feet for par. The Canadian did not convert the par putt to fall back. Oberholser had a good chance to further distance himself from his fellow 54-hole leader, but pulled a 10-foot birdie putt.
The duo parred eight, although Oberholser sweated his par out thanks to a poor drive and a second shot that bounced through the green. He hit a delicate chip to 16 inches and tapped in for par. Oberholser did not have the same luck at the ninth when his drive found a fairway bunker. He laid up short of the green, but came up short of the putting surface with his third as well. Oberholser chipped to six feet and holed the bogey putt to claim a four-shot lead at the turn.
Weir sealed the victory for Oberholser with his play on the first two holes of the back nine. He three-putted from slightly over 40 feet at the 10th, then hit a terrible approach to No. 11. Weir landed in a greenside bunker and could not save par from 9 feet.
Oberholser, now armed with a six-shot lead, stumbled at 13. He found a bunker down the left side, then came up short with his 9-iron approach. He hit his third to six feet, but missed the putt and dropped to minus-17. The par-5 14th was not kind to Oberholser as he found rough off the tee, then again with his second. He left the hole with back-to-back bogeys, but still held a four-shot edge since Weir and Sabbatini did not make any move.
Oberholser bounced back at 15 in an unlikely fashion. His drive bounced off the cart path twice, hopped into a tree before falling into the rough. The 31- year-old wedged his second to seven feet and rolled in the birdie try, while Weir missed a 5-footer for par. That bogey dipped Weir to 11-under par, one shot behind Sabbatini.
At the par-3 17th, Oberholser found a bunker off the tee and blasted out 20 feet past the hole. He nailed the par-saver, then played 18 conservatively en route to a par and the win.
'It's really nice,' said Oberholser, who shared the 54-hole lead here two years ago, but struggled to a final-round 76 and a tie for fourth place. 'It's a stepping stone and hopefully I continue to get better.'
Craig Barlow (69) and Daniel Chopra (71) shared fifth place at minus-10. Vijay Singh (68), American Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman (70), Brian Davis (73), Luke Donald (74) and Nick Watney (73) tied for seventh place at 9-under-par 279. Phil Mickelson, who won this title in 2005, only shot a 5-over 77 and finished in a tie for 38th place at minus-3.
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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?