From Ending to Beginning

RSS

The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am started this year the way it ended a year ago.
 
Brent Schwarzrock shot an 8-under-par 28 on the front nine at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in grabbing sole possession of the first-round lead.
 
Schwarzrock, who started at the 10th, made the turn in even par, only to scorch the easier half for an 8-under-par 64. Hes two shots clear of reigning Q-School medallist Pat Perez and Pebble Beachs tough-luck kid, Matt Gogel.
 
Tiger Woods, the man responsible for breaking Gogels heart two years ago, shot 2-under-par 70 at Poppy Hills.
 
Following a 45-minute frost delay, Woods thawed out quickly, playing his first seven holes in 4-under. But at the par-5 18th, his ninth hole of the day, he went cold.
 
Woods, who was using a Nike driver for the first time in competition, blocked his second shot into the right trees. He tried to pitch out into the center of the green, but watched helplessly as his ball rolled through to the fringe. He then played what looked like a purposeful chunk shot. His ball landed only three feet from its original lie and rolled slowly to the crest of the hill. Fans encouraged the ball to go, though Woods pleaded mightily for it to settle.
 
Of course, Woods was in the right. His ball rolled down the slope, eight feet past the cup, from where he two-putted for bogey. Woods played the four par-5s in 1-over Thursday.
 
Nonetheless, he was pleased with his score over the six-hour round on a chilly, yet sunny day on the Monterey Peninsula.
 
Thats great for me around this golf course, he said. I dont ever play this golf course well, so anytime I can shoot something under par, thats good.
 
Two years ago, Woods won this event when he overcame a seven-shot deficit with seven holes to play. Gogel just happened to be the victim.
 
Last year, it appeared as if he might redeem himself as he shot a second-round 62 to take a three-stroke advantage into the weekend. However, he folded with a Day-3 81 at Spyglass Hill and finished tied for 27th.
 
Ive played well out here since Ive been a pro with the exception of one round, said Gogel, who joined the tour in 2000. I think putting is probably the biggest variable this week, guys will start to lose their head on (the greens) because they do bump up and you just really have to stay patient.
Patience wasnt a problem Thursday, as Gogel, who started on No. 10, birdied holes 11-14.
 
Thats obviously a great start and I probably just kind of rode the momentum from there, he said.
 
Schwarzrocks start was a bit more tepid, but his back nine was equal to only two other players in tournament history.
 
Schwarzrocks 28 matched the nine-hole Pebble Beach record. Spike McRoy posted that number last year, as did Davis Love III - though Loves 28 came en route to victory in the final round.
 
Schwarzrock, who, like Love, is a resident of Sea Island, Ga., made only two pars on his inward half. He started his carnage by sticking a 4-iron to six feet and converting the eagle putt at the par-5 second.
 
He then made a pair of 15-foot birdie putts at the third and fourth holes. After a measly par at the par-3 fifth, Schwarzrock birdied each of his final four holes.
 
It was just an awesome day. What more could you ask for? he said.
 
Schwarzrock and Love share more than a residency and a record. Both have back problems. In fact, they share the same doctor. The 29-year-old Schwarzrock played only once on tour in 1999 ' withdrawing from this event after an opening 80.
 
He received a special medical exemption in 2000. But thanks to reoccurring back pains, he earned less than $100,000 in 27 events. He again failed to keep his card in 2001, finishing 142nd on the money list.
 
This year, Schwarzrock is exempt after finishing 18th at Q-School. He's also receiving a minor medical extension since he played in only 20 events last year. He has nine tournaments this year to earn $84,016 (combined with 2001 earnings of $322,336 would equal No. 125 Woody Austins $406,352) and receive a fully-exempt major medical extension for the remainder of the year.
 
Obviously, its still a concern, he said of his back problems. I stretch it three times a day and Im still careful with it, but no pain to speak of.
 
News and Notes from Round 1
 
Full-field scores from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am