Back to the Beach


The 2002 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am offered a definitive winner and a distinct loser.
First, there was Matt Gogel.
The unassuming Midwesterner nearly won this event in his rookie season of 2000, but was victimized by a ruthless Tiger Woods. Woods made up seven strokes in seven holes to bypass Gogel, who shot 40 on the back nine that Sunday.
The following year, Gogel took a three-shot lead into the weekend only to shot 81 in the third round and vanish into the Pacific mist.
Then came 2002. He entered the final hole trailing by one, made a hair-raising 25-foot birdie, and amazingly won by three.
That brings us to Pat Perez.
The tour rookie, who started Sunday with a four-stroke lead, experienced a final round bumpier than the grainy Pebble greens.
But through it all, he led by one ' that was before he teed off on the par-5 18th. Perezs drive flew the gallery on the right and narrowly finished out of bounds. Needing to save par to force a playoff, his 3-wood fourth shot landed in the ocean.
He took triple bogey and shot 76.
I dont know what it is about this town, said Perez, who had a four-stroke lead going into the final round of the 2000 Buy.Com Monterey Peninsula Classic, but closed in 77 to finish third.
To his credit, Perez regrouped for a strong first season. He earned another runner-up finish, at the Buick Classic, and finished 40th on the money list.
On the other hand, Gogel failed to ride the momentum of his victory, instead wiping out on the wave.
He had only two other top-10s and added just $269,482 to the $720,000 he won at Pebble.
I think I just kind of got frustrated throughout the middle of last year. I still had some nice tournaments, but overall I was a little disappointed with how my consistency was throughout the year, and thats my goal for 03, obviously to win, but to be more consistent throughout the year, Gogel said while preparing for the 2003 season at the Mercedes Championships.
This years Pro-Am field will be more notable for its absentees.
Woods will be skipping the tournament for the first time since turning professional. He is still on the mend after Dec. 12 knee surgery.
Only six of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are present: Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Rocco Mediate, Jim Furyk, 2001 champion Davis Love III and last week's winner Mike Weir.
This is the second week in a row that the pro-am format is in effect. Professionals played alongside amateurs in last weeks Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
This time, though, the rules are quite different.
As opposed to last week, when amateur teams of three rotated professionals the first four days of the 90-hole event, each amateur will have the same professional partner over the first three days this time.
The two will team together over three different courses ' Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills ' and try to make the 54-hole cut. The low 25 pro-am teams will play on Sunday to determine the winner.
Of course, the elements are always a concern around this time of the year on the Monterey Peninsula.
A full 72 holes have been played each of the last three years, something thats not taken for granted after the tournament was cancelled in 1996, and reduced to 54 holes in 98 and 99.
This years forecast is much like the year before: chilly, yet dry.
Related Links
  • PGA Tour Statistical Preview
  • Full coverage of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am