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Jacobsen Considers Amateurs Lifeblood

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LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Former Bob Hope Classic champion Peter Jacobsen doesn't consider playing with amateur partners during pro-ams a chore. He considers it important for the PGA Tour and he thoroughly enjoys it.
 
``Amateurs are the lifeblood of a PGA Tour,'' Jacobsen said. ``The (pro) players think it's about them but it's not about them. It's about the amateurs and the corporate support we get around the country.
 
``I think the tournaments that we play on tour, I would include the AT&T, at Disney World, any tournament where we can play an amateur component is very important. I like meeting new people and having a chance to play with amateurs and play with celebrities.''
 
Jacobsen will have ample opportunity to meet new people at the Hope, a 90-hole tournament where every pro is teamed with a different trio of amateurs each day for the first four days before going it alone on Sunday.
 
He said he has never been distracted by playing with amateurs or celebrities.
 
``I played in the Pebble Beach tournament for 18 years with Jack Lemmon, for heavens sake,'' he said. ``We'd have 160 yards and he would say, 'What do you think?' I would say, 'Jack, it's a 9-iron, or 4-wood, it doesn't matter. You hit all of them the same distance anyway.'''
 
Jacobsen's six career wins include the Hope in 1990, and at Pebble Beach in 1995.
 
He vividly recalls the Hope victory.
 
``I remember walking up 18 and I had to two-putt for a birdie to win the tournament, to beat (Scott Simpson and Brian Tennyson) by one stroke, and Bob and Delores Hope were on the 18th green with my wife clapping and saying, 'Oh, you've done it!'
 
``I said, 'Yeah, I've got to two-putt from 52 feet, Bob. Have a chair, grab a cold one and wait.'''
 
Jacobsen, 48, said he learned to respect pro-ams from observing some of the top players when he came on to the tour.
 
``I have three amateurs with me and it's my job first and foremost to make sure each of those three players has the best day he's ever going to have on a golf course,'' he said. ``Not to say my golf is secondary, but it's not as important as having those guys have a great day.
 
``That's my perspective, probably not shared by a lot of players out here. I learned that perspective from players who came before me, like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Fuzzy Zoeller and Chi Chi Rodriguez ' guys that got it.''
 
Jacbosen feels so strongly that he wishes the PGA Tour would require players to compete in the Hope and at Pebble Beach since ``you have a chance to rub elbows with the corporate CEOs.''
 
``And I would also tell these guys, 'Look, if you had a chance to play on a Saturday afternoon with Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Sorbo and Joe Pesci, would you enjoy that?
 
``Yeah, you probably would,'' Jacobsen said.
 
``So why don't you just enjoy it during the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, because all those guys come out because of the (golf) stars, the David Duvals, the Phil Mickelsons, the Tiger Woods. They want to play with them.''
 
Mickelson is back to defend his title in the Hope, and 1999 champion Duval is also in the field. Woods has never played the tournament.
 
``I would hate to see tournaments like this start to go away,'' Jacobsen said. ``A lot of players need a refresher course on how important the amateur involvement is.''