PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Even amid a field that includes the likes of Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Jason Day and Bubba Watson, make no mistake - the celebrities rule the roost here at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Unusually large crowds lined the fairways Thursday at Spyglass Hill, and while many were there to see world-class golf, even more were interested in the amateur partners playing alongside the pros.
The biggest draw this week is likely Justin Timberlake, who garnered plenty of cheers when he stepped behind the 16th tee, grabbed a guitar offered by the resident of one of the neighboring houses and played an impromptu, one-song concert for the dozens of fans gathered at one of the course’s farthest outposts.
“That was a cool moment,” said Justin Rose, Timberlake’s partner. “That’s obviously when you really appreciate how someone can grab a guitar, go a cappella and sound so awesome. You have a better appreciation.
Actor Mark Wahlberg isn’t far behind Timberlake on the popularity scale, and he is teaming with Watson this week as the two-time Masters champ makes his first appearance at this event since 2007. Their team-building, it seems, could use some work.
“It was the first day that he was actually supportive and not trying to take my money, which was good,” Wahlberg said. “Usually he’s trying to do everything he can to heckle me.”
Former Cal standout Aaron Rodgers was another crowd favorite, although his popularity apparently didn’t register with the starter at Poppy Hills who confused him for another player in his foursome.
“This morning the starter, I walked to the tee on No. 1 and he said, ‘Good morning Mr. Holmes,’” Rodgers said. “I thought, ‘Wow.’ Usually I get [Kansas City Chiefs quarterback] Alex Smith, but J.B. Holmes, that’s a first.”
Wideout Larry Fitzgerald scored the winning touchdown in overtime when his Arizona Cardinals beat Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers in the playoffs. Fitzgerald played a practice round Wednesday at Pebble Beach but then had to fly home to Arizona for the Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns basketball game, having already promised his 8-year-old son that he would take him to watch Warriors star Steph Curry.
Fitzgerald was back at Spyglass Hill for a tee time early Thursday morning, although he remained realistic with his on-course expectations.
“I am what I am. I’m a 15 [handicap],” he said. “I’m not going to miraculously walk inside the ropes and be a scratch golfer, so I’m not going to allow my mind to think that. I just want to chip in and help wherever I can.”
While many of the celebrities lead a life quite different from those of the rank and file, Wahlberg offered a (somewhat) relatable story about trying to squeeze in his practice around family life.
“I’ve got four kids at home,” he said. “If I want to play, I go to Riviera [Country Club] at 6 in the morning. Tee off at 6:30 on the back, I’m done by 8:30 and home by 9 for some pancakes, and then my wife is happy.”
See? Celebrities, they’re just like us.